A CANCER survivor is urging others to be aware of the symptoms.
The north east of England has the highest rates of oesophagogastric cancer in the country, but early detection can boost the chances of those affected living to tell the tale.
Retired lorry driver David Waite survived the disease and is now hoping to help others do likewise by backing the Be Clear on Cancer campaign.
The 70-year-old, of Cramlington, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus after almost choking on a lump of beef.
David, a grandfather of three, said: “One Sunday afternoon, I had been enjoying Sunday lunch when I couldn’t get a piece of beef out of my throat. It interfered with my breathing and just would not go.
“My wife called my GP, and an ambulance was sent and I was taken to Wansbeck General Hospital, where the blockage was removed and I had some tests.
“The results identified that I might be susceptible to cancer, so I underwent further tests and monitoring including an endoscopy twice a year.”
It was later confirmed that he had cancer, necessitating surgery at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
David said: “It was a real shock to find out that they’d discovered a tumour in my oesophagus, but if it hadn’t been for my regular check-ups, it would not have been spotted so early and I may have died.
“I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiotherapy as the cancer had been identified early and, after the operation, I remember feeling exhausted but relieved to be alive.”
“I was told following the operation that, because of the extra dose of anaesthetic, I would experience some memory loss, so I had to retire from lorry driving, but I lead a full life, enjoying my family and travelling extensively,” he said.
“Despite retiring, my days are full, and I still drive regularly, although these days it’s the school run for my three grandchildren Chloe, Craig and Lucy.”
Be Clear on Cancer was launched across the north east and north Cumbria by the North of England Cancer Network to encourage people to tell their GPs if they think something is wrong.
Cramlington GP Dr Duncan Leith said: “David’s experiences show just how important it is to be diagnosed early.”