When Life Gives You Lemons: Danny Germain

Here's another interview as part of my When Life Gives You Lemons series.

 I've known Danny and his family for many years.  Danny's step-mum, Marion, was one of Andy's closest friends and he turned to her for coaching support to help him with the mental strength he knew he would need when he was diagnosed with cancer.  Marion was also one of Daisy's Godmothers.  Danny was a small boy when we first met him and it was years before we were entrusted with the secret that Danny had carried with him since he was little.

Photo of Danny Germain smiling at the camera

A couple of days after Andy was told that the only had a matter of weeks left to live we attended the premier of Danny's feature film about his story. Despite our own personal turmoil it was really important to Andy and I that we were there with his family; his dad Richard, with Marion and his gorgeous sisters as he shared his biggest secret with an unsuspecting audience, that he has been HIV+ from birth.

Tell me how life has given you lemons? 

I got my first lemon aged around 18 months old when I was diagnosed as HIV+ and my second aged 5 when my Mom died from AIDS related illness in 1997. Since then however my contact with lemons has often been with tequila.

And so how have you made lemonade? 

Being HIV+ for the most part of my life was a total secret which I never understood. I was able to do everything that any HIV- person would do and so I tried to live my life just as I would if I didn’t have HIV and Mom was still here. Sadly I’ve had a taste of how short life can be and decided from a young age that I wanted to make the most of my time here on earth, that the powerful play goes on and that you may contribute a verse.

What have you discovered about yourself (that you maybe didn’t know before)? 

I’ve discovered I can be very motivated and stubborn although if I don’t wish to do something I just won’t do it! I try to focus my efforts and energy on the things and people I love because to me they’re the most important. I read once that happiness is only real when shared and so I try to enjoy moments and not things. I’ve learned too that it’s possible over time to use some of your darkest moments to drive you forward, to help others and that a smile can often be a more powerful remedy than you ever thought was possible.

In hindsight, is there anything you would do differently? 

I’ve often wondered whether I left it too late to share the story of HIV in my family and whilst for many years I was frustrated and angered with everything bottled up in my head, the timing now feels right and I feel ready and relaxed. I think if I had to live my life again I doubt I’d change any of the significant decisions I made.

What would you consider to be your biggest strength(s)? 

I’ve been lucky enough to meet many wonderful people along the way who have helped me get to where I want to be. I have a job I love, a soon to be house I hope and the best friends and family. They are my source of strength and bring me an irreplaceable amount of joy that allows me to be me.

 What has been the best advice you have been given? 

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

How do you want to be remembered? 

Curly hair aside, I’d hope that at my funeral, people would look back and see that I did everything I could to be happy and that I tried to build the life I wanted surrounded by the people I wanted to share it with despite the obvious hurdles. We all have a story, a history, a truth that we often hide beneath the surface which will shape our lives and it’s up to each of us to decide what we want that to look like.

What advice would you give other people when life gives them lemons? 

Remember that you can take a sour lemon and turn it into something sweet, you just need the right tools.

This is a piece I wrote for the The Independent about Danny and the story of how he shared the news of his HIV+ status through his film The Independent Danny Germain

Danny will be running in this year's London Marathon, raising funds for Great Ormond Street  the hospital that treated him for many years when being HIV+ was still feared, here is his sponsorship page Danny Germain's Virgin Money Giving Page

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