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Dimitri Comitis

I am writing this so that my struggle to hang on to this life, can in some small way help others in their fight, and to also make a contribution towards a worthwhile cause, the Pink Phoenix Cancer Foundation.

I am also a firm believer that each of us must find our own path to health, peace and salvation.

At a young age, I got the dreaded news that the sore on the inside of my cheek was...” that which we shall never speak its name again”. I suppose it’s not something I like to bring into my space as it evokes all those feelings, and feelings is not something I do very well. Shock, panic, mourning and a blurred memory soon followed as I tumbled down the proverbial. The doctors now called the tune and boy did I dance.

They prescribed “Commando surgery” which included the removal of all the glands from the left side of my neck at an upfront fee of 60k, which due to limited funds, was negotiated down by less than half. The procedure, with hindsight, was excessive… but as it was all new to me, I wasn’t thinking about what choices I have, I just followed what was prescribed, although I have a nagging suspicion that if I did have medical cover a lot more would have been prescribed, like radiation.

The op was a success and much to the delight of my surgeon and to my relief I still had full use of my left shoulder and all of my facial features, a risk to my quality of life that he neglected to mention. Of course, that ”most offensive part” must be removed at ALL COSTS… Like they give you a choice?... It’s just that it would be nice to think that we actually have one!

For a long time after that I suffered with my mouth, constantly getting ulcers that would take up to two weeks to heel, and I developed white or scaly patches, on the same side of my mouth as the operation.

I could not eat chillies or spicy food (which I love)… and my healing ability in this area had diminished over time due to the lymph nodes being removed. I consulted with a specialist and a homoeopath, who advised me that the only way to really get rid of it all that was with a laser.

I learnt to live with these new limitations but over ten years later, I experienced a lot of stress at work and a small tumour appeared out of nowhere.

Here we go again!... The first time round, it was shock, denial, disbelief... But now years later, there was less panic and more of what are my options.

I went to see a surgeon who told me he could remove it all and so, I went for another operation which included “freeze biopsies” (where they check the margins in theatre), very worthwhile as you only remove what’s absolutely necessary.

While I had this second tumour, I noticed that the constant washing of my mouth with toothpaste brought relief and soothed the affected area so I started to do some research on the net and found that the ingredient bicarbonate of soda was bringing relief to many through mouth washes and some people were even drinking it to alkalise their system.

The surgeon managed to remove the tumour but one of the margins indicated moderate “dysplasia” (abnormal cell development). Radiation was recommended to ensure they got it all. However an alarm bell went off when the surgeon mentioned that it was a good thing that I had not had radiation the first time (over ten years ago) as it would not have been an option this time round.

I was shocked and told my wife that after ten years I would not have recovered sufficiently to endure another dose. With that in mind, I decided to avoid it as long as possible, much to the dismay of my family and my brother who is a doctor.

I continued my bicarbonate of soda mouth washes and drinking a small amount of it each morning to alkalise my system as my body was highly acidic.

Now, nearly two years later, thanks to my hygiene regime, I have no scaly white patches, the red patches come and go and if I get an ulcer it heals within two to three days whereas in the past it would take 2 to 3 weeks, and as for the moderate dysplasia, it has as yet not amounted to anything. It is important to mention that what I do is certainly not a cure, although it brings me tremendous symptomatic relief, so you should at all times consult with a professional.

I am not as careful as I should be with my diet and to my delight... Spicy food is no longer off the menu. I do try to have foods that make my mouth feel good such as garlic and food with turmeric, but on the whole my bad old habits are still with me, except for one, smoking... I gave that up many years ago and am glad I did.

I drink alcohol moderately and its usually red wine... So for now I am in the clear. I do get aches and pains which play on my mind. So it’s always in my thoughts, like a constant companion lurking in the shadows with ill intent waiting to pounce, but I try not to dwell on him for too long... fear is not a word that I allow into my space, nor the word regret.

Cést la vie!...

I am very bad at giving advice in this sort of matter, all I can say is don’t panic, I know it’s easier said than done, but it only makes things worse. Be proactive and do as much research as possible.

Enquire, especially, about the ramifications of any course of treatment, so that you know exactly what you are in for. Since the second op, two years ago, I started following an oral treatment program and this has brought me tremendous relief... Giving me hope that there could possibly be a solution to this madness and that someone else may gain some good out of what has helped me.

My first born, Michael, was 2 at the time, and we haven’t really had an earnest discussion with our kids about this experience.

My wife, Molly, has been so strong and at the same time has felt vulnerable. I think she’s buried me a few times in the last 14 years.

My family have borne the brunt of my opinions on what is good for them and what to avoid, they get annoyed with me, but if something small sinks in, it will hold them in good stead... although at the end of the day, they have to make their own choices.

The experience has slowed me down, but life is for living. An integral part of my positive attitude is finding strength in my faith... I thank God for guiding me in my choices throughout this ordeal and I pray that my story may in some way help others in their struggles.

Sincerely Dimitri
All glory to God, through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

Shalom Mkhize


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