With Father’s Day approaching, Brittany Daniel can’t help but think about her dad, who lost his battle with lung cancer seven years ago.
“It’s still very tough for me and my whole family,” The Game star tells PEOPLE.
This Father’s Day, Daniel, 39, who battled and overcame cancer herself, is remembering her father in a very special way, in a touching blog post on Medium.com, as an ambassador for the non-profit, Stand Up to Cancer.
“I wanted to honor him,” she says. “We were all very close as a family.”
She said she wrote the blog because she wanted to thank her dad, Charlton Bradford (C.B.) Daniel, for the strength he gave her to fight her own battle with Stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which she learned she had in 2011, three years after her father died at age 69.
“We lost him and then I found out I had cancer, so that was tough on our family,” she says.
“He was the strongest man I know. He was like, ‘I’m fine. I’ll get through this.’ My dad’s motto was, ‘You can get through anything once you set your mind to it.”
It was a motto she took to heart when she fought cancer herself.
“When you have cancer, you are pretty scared,” she says. “You think you are going to die. I was Stage IV. I was really bad off. But I remember thinking, ‘I am getting through this. I am not dying from this.’ And I think that that is so my dad. That is my dad’s strength.
“I remember just going into this warrior mode. I just feel like that was my dad. I feel like he was a big part of me getting through it, even though he wasn t there.”
She underwent chemotherapy – and beat the cancer. “What I’ve found is that life is so much better than it was before,” she says. “I live life to the fullest. My perspective is very different than it was before.”
She didn t speak publicly about her bout with cancer until 2014. “We were all so raw from my dad passing away that we kept it private for a while.”
She has come forward now because she wants to help raise awareness about the need for cancer research and to help others, just as others helped her during her darkest moments.
“I remember when I was in the waiting room waiting to get a check up while I was undergoing my treatment,” she says. “I was at my lowest point. I had no hair and was so sick.
“One of the patients put her hand on my shoulder and said, ‘You’re going to be okay.’ A lot of other people had said that to me, but having that woman who had gone through it say that to me meant so much to me. She gave me so much hope and now I want to give other people hope.”
In between working – she is on the current season of the BET series The Game and is in the upcoming movie Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser, which comes out next month – she has been working with organizations like Stand Up to Cancer.
She said she was thrilled to attend the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in April, when Stand Up To Cancer and the American Cancer Society announced the formation of a $20 million Dream Team, which will focus on researching new therapies in the battle against lung cancer, which claimed the life of her father and her grandfather.
“Stand Up to Cancer is amazing,” she says. “They are doing a lot with immunotherapy and are putting together these dream teams by getting all these top scientists and researchers from all over the world to work together and collaborate.
“I have to say right now it’s been a really beautiful experience to be speaking up about lung cancer. It feels very healing to talk about my dad and to be helping others.”