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Second Opinion: Second Chance For Cancer Survivor

After suffering from drenching night sweats, an unexplained fever and loss of weight, former crane operator Anthony Dewing, decided it was time to get a second opinion after his doctor incorrectly diagnosed him with muscle spasms. Desperate to find a doctor who could help him, Anthony spent his days wondering why he was in constant pain.

Finally, after seeking a second opinion from another doctor, he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. But by then the cancer was already in Stage III B.

“I always complained about constant pain in my lower back to the doctor and he carried on treating me for muscle spasms when in fact I had cancer,” says Anthony.

The father of three underwent a lymph node biopsy. The gland was removed through a surgical incision on the left side of his stomach. The glands on both sides of his diaphragm, as well as other areas, were found to be Lymphoma. He had eight chemotherapy treatments and ten days of radiation treatment.

“The second opinion saved my life. I always tell people that if you have to go the same doctor for the same problem, for the second time, ask for a referral to a specialist or to do more tests as to ascertain what is actually wrong. Your health is so important. Some doctors do not examine you properly and a lot of warning signs are missed,” says Anthony.

After his diagnosis, Anthony joined a support group for people who had similar cancer experiences. He believes that being part of a support group improves your quality of life and survival.

Anthony added, “Joining a support group helped me through my cancer journey. While learning a lot about cancer, it also made me feel better, more hopeful and not so isolated. Not only do you learn from oncology specialists, but you also learn from each other. Support groups are vital to cancer survivors and their caregivers.”

Anthony encourages all cancer patients to research and educate themselves in everyday practical ways to deal with cancer. “It is important to educate and empower yourself about cancer. Educate others around you, your children and the elderly. Go for regular checkups. The best thing you can do as a cancer patient is to research the disease and arm yourself with the knowledge so that you know exactly what to do. You have to believe in yourself. Always ask your oncologist or doctor before taking unprescribed medication that may affect your chemotherapy.”

Although Anthony still has regular blood tests and checkups, he remains positive and keeps the faith. He has blood tests every six month and goes for a CT scan once a year. He realises that early diagnosis can save his life.

With the hope of inspiring other cancer survivors in their cancer journey, Anthony has become an activist for the Cancer Association of South Africa through programmes like CANSA Relay For Life and CANSA Shavathon. Anthony was awarded “Volunteer of the Year” and “CANSA Relay For Life: Best Chair” in 2012, among many others.

“I have put a lot of love and energy into the organisation and have a lot of good memories. CANSA has inspired me because it is such a wonderful organisation to become involved in. I am a very committed volunteer at the CANSA Mkhuhla Care Home. Cancer patients in Kwa-Zulu Natal would have nowhere to stay when undergoing therapy if it was not for this care facility. CANSA Mkhuhla Care Home is in my heart and I urge people to support it.”

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