MLA shares his illness battle story in support of oesophageal cancer charity

An East Antrim MLA has taken up a new role with a cancer charity close to to his heart.

Friday, 17th July 2020, 3:29 pm
Stewart Dickson MLA.
Stewart Dickson MLA.

One year on from beginning his battle with oesophageal cancer, Stewart Dickson has become a board member of OGCancerNI.

The Alliance representative said he was pleased to be to help raise awareness of the charity.

He said: “I am returning to work and life in the strange Covid world. I am still here battling on. I was delighted to join the board of OGCancerNI. Determined to work for this amazing charity, spread the word to others.

“OGCancerNI supports research and also patients in their journey.”

The positive message from Mr Dickson, a former mayor of Carrickfergus, was in contrast to the shock that greeted him 12 months earlier.

“Just over a year ago (11 July) at Antrim Area Hospital I received the news that I had a tumour in my oesophagus. I was thrown in at the deep end of emotions not knowing what was going to come next,” he recalled.

What followed was a roller-coaster experience from diagnosis, chemotherapy, through to surgery, support, set-backs and recovery with the additional challenges which the coronavirus pandemic presented.

The Greenisland resident was quick to praise the professional care and support from “amazing people” that both he and his wife Sandra received right from the outset.

The Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in Belfast was highlighted: “To be treated in the Cancer Centre is both daunting and also inspiring.”

He added: “During this time I met OGCancerNI volunteers who gave me hope and courage, meeting long term survivors (16 years plus), hearing about their surgery, their stories - all daunting, but helpful.

“I could not have believed or imagined all I would come through in the past year, the journey I would have, the love and support I have been given by family and friends and church.

“The surgery and the chemo has been successful. Every day I am thankful for the skills of the doctors and nurses who looked after me and continue to do so.”

Thanking their new colleague for sharing his story, OGCancerNI stated: “Your support means a lot to us and we are delighted to have you on board.”

Set up in 2018, the charity’s main objectives are:

To support patients and carers affected by oesophago-gastric (oesophageal and stomach) cancer;

To communicate the early signs and symptoms of the cancer to promote early intervention;

To work in partnership with healthcare providers in Northern Ireland to be a patients advocate and promote the best outcomes for sufferers;

To act as the voice of patients and provide insight, support and care in a professional manner.

Learn more about its work at https://ogcancerni.com/

Read Stewart Dickson’s full story on his Facebook page.

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