Kraaifontein resident Lance Dietrich has an intimate understanding of the fear that sets in when one is diagnosed with cancer. He has faced this no fewer than three times.
But he refuses to give up without a fight and has started a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of a potentially live-saving drug because his medical aid is unable to foot the bill.
And staying alive right now is more important than ever for the 37-year-old.
He has just become a father for the first time.
Remaining positive, he says, gets him through each day.
Lance was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
It started with a sharp pain in his rectum, which he tried to ignore.
“I went to my local GP and was told to see a gastroenterologist (a physician who focuses on one’s digestive system). I did not have the time or the money and I hoped that the pain would eventually disappear,” he says.
But it did not. The pain became unbearable and it was blood in his stool which raised the red flags for Lance.
He returned to the doctor and three days after undergoing a rectal scope, he received the bad news which he describes as “life changing”.
“The minute I heard the doctor saying ‘cancer’, I went blank and all his words which followed, went unheard. I cannot remember a single word until the doctor asked to see my parents,” he says.
Emergency surgery, during which he underwent rectal reconstruction, followed.
And this was followed by chemotherapy.
And eventually later that year, he was cancer free and got back to doing the things he loved, which included playing hockey and going to gym.
But in 2016, the cancer returned and Lance hit rock bottom.
“I was back on chemo, walking around with a medication ball attached to my chest. And then it was radiation therapy. I started suffering from depression and sometimes I would cry like a baby but through the journey I have adopted positive thoughts which help me cope.”
Despite the blow dealt him, radiation and chemo treatments helped him get back on his feet and he was declared cancer free.
It was in July this year, during a visit to his doctor for a regular check-up, that he was told that the cancer had again returned.
“When going for check-ups, I am always positive but this time I knew something wasn’t right. I just trusted my gut,” he says.
“My situation looks grim this time around as the cancer spread to my rib… but I will continue to remain positive.”
His hope, he says, lies in a drug called Erbitux, which will cost him in the region of R280 000 – but his medical aid cannot afford to pay for it.
“I would just like to be there for (my daughter’s) first steps, when she starts attending school or even gets married. I want to be part of her life,” he says.
Determined to do whatever he can to ensure he gives himself a fighting chance, Lance has started a crowdfunding campaign through the Back a Buddy non-profit organisation, and his goal is to raise at least R350 000.
And if there’s a surplus, he says, he will donate to someone who also suffers from cancer.
Oncologist, Dr Marli Groenewald said Erbitux is a drug used to treat cancers of the head and neck, which can also be used for colon cancers.
She said the drug works differently and has various side effects for different patients but is very expensive.
If you would like to help Lance Dietrich, you can donate to www.backabuddy.co.za/warrior-challenge-icancervive website. Connect with him via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or lancedietrichwarriorchallenge on Facebook.