Source: Sunderland Echo
By: Katy Wheeler
John and Pauline Douglas were devastated when their dog Diesel had to be put down after developing cancer of the neck.
But it was the late bull mastiff’s symptoms which helped John, 39, realise that he too had the disease.
The dad-of-four, of Tunstall Bank, noticed a lump in his neck in February.
And despite the fact he was told by doctors to rule out cancer, John’s experience with Diesel’s disease convinced him something was seriously wrong – and he pushed for further tests.
His instincts were proved correct and John was diagnosed with cancer, which had spread to his neck, in April – just a week before his wedding day to wife Pauline, 41.
John said: “Because of my age, the fact I don’t smoke and because I am a moderate drinker, I was told not to worry about cancer and that it was just an infection.
“But what happened to Diesel set alarm bells ringing.
“He had the same kind of lump in his neck that would swell up and down. We were told his wasn’t cancer to start with and it was only found late on.
“Even though I was told by a specialist that I didn’t fit the criteria for cancer, the doubt was still niggling and I made such a song and dance that more tests were done.”
As a result of John’s persistence, one of his tonsils was removed and a biopsy revealed the cancer, which had spread to his lymph glands.
After six weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, followed by surgery at Sunderland Royal Hospital, John is now getting his life back to normal.
He is back at work for Vauxhall technical support section.
He said: “I am pushing for normality. The cancer took six months off me. I have my good days and I have my bad days, but I visited the hospital today and they say they don’t need to see me for two months. So today is a good day.”
Such is John’s gratitude to five-year-oldDiesel, who was put down in August last year, he even has a tattoo of him on his leg.
“I owe my life to Diesel. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have been so sure something was seriously wrong. I would urge anyone who is concerned about their mouth and neck to get checked out,” he explained.
As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month, John is backing a campaign to raise awareness of the disease.
Events have been held across the region to promote early detection which improves survival chances.