After being told he had just weeks to live, a 39-year-old man battling stage 4 bowel cancer has beaten his diagnosis. Moved to let others know that cancer need not be a death sentence, he claims that a positive mental attitude was the key to his recovery.
“I never expected to get to this point and to be fair, it is only through seeing the experiences of others that I realized it was possible,” Danny de Brabander, of Claughton in Wirral, North West England, told the Liverpool Echo.
Danny knows there is a strong chance his cancer will return, as it’s stage 4, but claims, “I have to just stay positive and hope that every scan is clear.” Scans from mid-March show that Danny is currently in remission.
However, even to get to this point, it hasn’t been easy for Danny, as he lost 60 percent of his liver, his gall bladder, and his spleen before undergoing invasive chemotherapy to remove cancer from his stomach lining.
He will need scans every three months for two years, then every six months.
In a Facebook post on March 22, Danny thanked his social circle for their messages of love and support as he battled through cancer.
“I’m still on a real high after my positive news at the weekend and the words ‘NO CANCER VISIBLE,'” he shared. “Whilst the percentage changes are still against me, I am certainly going to enjoy not having to worry about cancer … not to mention the heartache and stress of not knowing how long you have left to live!”
Danny told the Echo that he is excited to get back to work, his family, and the planning of his wedding for 2022. Admitting he had his “dark moments,” the sales manager for a telecommunications company is looking forward to returning to work, in-person in Birkenhead, after having his COVID-19 vaccination.
Danny learned that he had stage 4 bowel cancer, which had spread to his liver, in January 2019, after initially ignoring the warning signs. Early signs can include a persistent change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, blood in the stool, and unexplained weight loss, according to Mayo Clinic.
Danny fought his diagnosis for two long years, during which time he suffered a chemotherapy-induced heart attack, and sepsis after emergency surgery to insert a stent.
“No one knows if my delay in seeing the doctor had an impact on the stage of the cancer,” he said, “but it is one of the reasons I try my best to promote the symptoms of bowel cancer and encourage people to seek medical advice … Bowel Cancer Awareness is key. If caught early, it’s successfully treated in 90 percent of cases.”
With the support of family and three friends–Ben Douglas, Ben Lavell, and Will Davenport–Danny started a fundraising campaign called Team DDB. Raising over 48,000 pounds (approx. US$66,150) to date for charities including Wirral Foodbank, The Critical Care Team at Arrowe Park Hospital, and Bowel Cancer Awareness, Danny claims the fund was a “perfect distraction for the mind” during his own cancer treatment.
Sharing his most profound insights on Facebook, Danny posted, “All I would say to anyone who is going through something: Please try to be positive. Believe in yourself. Never ever give up!”
“I’m going to enjoy every single moment from now on,” he signed off, “hopefully many days like this one.”