Chess helps combat leukemia

The Southerner

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BY DARRIEA CLARK

“Okay, what is my next move?” pondered Grady senior and three-time leukemia survivor Daniel Blues after he was diagnosed with cancer for the first time. Instead of taking the “why me?” approach that many cancer patients take, his outlook on this news was similar to the mindset of a chess master.

“It’s a thinking game. You have to plan out and think about things before you do it,” Blues said. It was this same mindset that has helped Blues through a tough four years. He was diagnosed once in 2008, again in 2010, and a third time earlier this year, just before spring break.

For Blues, chess is his key motivation for both simple and rough life choices. Ever since he was years old, chess played a major role in his life. He began playing the game with his parents and his friends.

“I was always an out-of-the-box thinker as a kid,” Blues said.

In the second grade he was introduced to Orrin Hudson, who came to his elementary school and set up a chess club. He is a life coach who uses chess to teach people how to think strategically and trust themselves. For years, Blues has worked closely with Hudson. Hudson hosts camp programs over the summer at which Blues volunteers. This summer, he helped kids learn how to play chess and helped other kids improve their game.

He attributes his character and success in life to playing chess.

“Life and chess are similar because for both, you have to make a decision at certain times, and if you make a choice that you know you shouldn’t, there will be consequences,” Blues said.

When he was diagnosed a second time, he had the same ‘get to it’ attitude. The third time he was diagnosed, however, he admits it was harder to take.

“The third time it hit me a little harder,” Blues said. “We had been trying the same medicine, and I kind of had a breakdown moment, but I had to keep pushing.”

His outlook on his cancer inspired his loved ones as well.

“It really hurt my mom, but she realized that crying wouldn’t help,” Blues said.

His mother, Pam Aliniece, started a nonprofit organization in 2008 called Laughing at Leukemia. The organization focuses on kids who are new to leukemia. It helps them develop a plan of action, talk about how they will handle treatment and helps them get units of hair.

Chess will always be a part of Blues’ life.

“Down the street from my house near The Underground, they have chess tables in a park,” Blues said. “Every now and then I play when I have the time. You’ll see people who are always there. I play with them and sometimes I play with strangers.”

Chess helped Blues to learn important values and a positive mindset about life.

“It taught me how to not take life for granted,” Blues said.

 

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