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Cancer Survivor’s Positivity, Kindness & Fundraising
May 30, 2021
A Wirral bowel cancer survivor who spoke to Radio Clatterbridge about his road to recovery is now paying it forward with fundraising, awareness, and positivity.
Danny de Brabander, ‘born and raised’ in Claughton Village, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bowel Cancer in January 2019. Like many, Danny received his diagnosis after a colonoscopy in 2019. Yet despite this, Danny remembers how he first experienced symptoms in April 2018 – and dismissed the warning signs. Danny explained to presenter Steve Evans “I was living life normally up until about three years ago, when all of a sudden, I started to feel unwell. I went to the doctors, and they said, “go for blood tests.” Me being a man…I thought, “you know what, I’ll be fine.”
“So, I didn’t go for blood tests, a few holidays to Spain ensued, but again, I just didn’t feel right.” As time went on, alarm bells started to ring. Danny said “I was out jogging and just not feeling myself. It got to about September time, and then I started to pass blood in my stool. “I’d go out just for a few drinks on a Friday and Saturday night, and you know – there’s having a hangover, and there’s just feeling absolutely dreadful.” So, Danny returned to the doctors for blood and stool testing in late September. While his bloodwork came back clear, his stool sample was irregular, prompting doctors to refer him for a colonoscopy.
After a 40-minute procedure, a blockage was found within 10 minutes, leading doctors to inform Danny that he had bowel cancer. The news hit Danny hard, setting him on his cancer journey and pathway to recovery. Yet, in many ways, Danny’s path to recovery was bumpier than his diagnosis.
Following bouts of chemotherapy in March 2019, Danny was hospitalised after he became cardiotoxic. Then, in April that year, Danny faced a second bout of emergency surgery, leading to an emergency bowel resection and stoma surgery. Unfortunately complications reared. Danny explained: “I went down for surgery, said goodbye to my family and so on. After that, unbeknown to me, I was in an induced coma for about four days. My family were told during my operation that, because of all the stuff leaking into my stomach, I had contracted sepsis, all my major organs were shutting down, and it was very unlikely I wouldn’t make the evening. Thankfully, due to the amazing care from the Critical Health Team at Arrowe Park Hospital, I pulled through.”
After the second round of chemotherapy at Clatterbridge Cancer Center in June 2019, Danny was advised to “get his affairs in order” and “prepare himself for the worst”. This time though he recovered well, leading to a referral to The Christie in Manchester.
Determined to turn a negative into a positive, the Claughton-raised man then decided to team up with pals to raise funds for the community. Calling themselves Team DDB, Danny joined forces with friends Ben Douglas, Ben Lavell and Will Davenport, spreading kindness while raising awareness of bowel cancer. The trio raised crucial funds for several vital cancer-battling organisations, including the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and Maggie’s as Danny took the next step in his battle against bowel cancer.
Then, in February 2020, Danny went under the knife once again. Doctors performed a 60% liver resection to remove cancer. Doctors removed his gallbladder, and again, Danny’s body began fighting back. Following a series of procedures, Danny finally got the news he had been fighting for, a scan result with no visible signs of cancer in his system.
Danny told Radio Clatterbridge: “It’s been some, some journey…[cancer] is like weeding a garden in a way. They’ve taken the cancer away, they’ve removed the weeds, but the following scan now becomes a critical one, because there’s always a chance… the weeds may grow back in me.
“Now I feel really grateful, feel happy, I just love life and…I appreciate every minute now.”
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second-biggest cancer-related killer. It takes around 16,000 lives annually per year, and it is most common in individuals over the age of 50 – Danny is just 40. But it can affect people of all ages and genders, with 1 in 15 men developing symptoms in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 18 women. If bowel cancer is caught in the primary stages, an individual’s survival rate is high. However, it is also one of the more stigmatised cancers, and if found at Stage 4, the rate of survival stands low at 14%. Danny considers himself lucky to be a part of that 14%. As Danny faces recovery, he and Team DDB have received recognition for their efforts to turn a negative into a positive.
As well as raising over £55,000 so far, Danny was awarded the prestigious ‘Wirral Award 2020’ by the Mayor of Wirral for ‘Outstanding Achievement’ in the community. Furthermore, famous faces have pledged their support to Team DDB, including Sir. Alex Ferguson, Steven Gerrard and Liam Gallagher.
Danny told Radio Clatterbridge: “The message we’re trying to send is positivity. Never give up, and always keep believing. Don’t worry about things too much because 97% of the stuff you worry about actually doesn’t happen. So, I would always say, take that forward.”
BOWEL CANCER – THE SYMPTOMS
What are the signs?
A persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos.
Blood in the poo without symptoms of piles.
Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating after eating. This sometimes results in a reduction in the amount of food consumed and weight loss.
You can listen to Danny’s recent interview with Steve Evans below.
If you would like to support Danny and TeamDDB, please follow them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) with the handle @team.ddb.