Lessons on cancer survival from a medical miracle

I was so honored to get to sit down and talk with this amazing man and get his story on how he is able to deadlift 600 pounds when the doctors told him several years earlier to get his affairs in order because there was nothing they could do for him.

For those of you who don’t know D Anthony Evans, he is a cancer warrior, insane body builder, fitness expert, inspirational speaker, medical miracle, and a whole lotta fun to interview.

D has neurofibromatosis (NF); a condition that attacks the nerve tissue.  NF causes tumors to form anywhere in the body at any time.  The tumors are particularly dangerous when they grow around the spine and often cause paralysis and death.

When D felt something in his back as he was working out, he practically had to beg his doctor for an MRI to see what was causing the pain.  The MRI results showed a 2-pound tumor pressing up against his spine.  It tested out to be MPNST, Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor.  The average life expectancy is 6 months – 5 years.  As a result of the MRI and the biopsy, the doctors told him he had no chance of survival and suggested he check into hospice.  (Hospice is like a hospital, but you go there to be kept comfortable at the end of your life when there is no hope for recovery.)

But D is the son of a fighter.  His mom, while battling HIV/AIDS, helped others prevent the disease by handing out literature and condoms at high schools.  D knew that he could not give up this fight.  He “used the pain” to “push himself to greatness”.  He soon discovered that his grueling exercise routine was actually one of the main things that was fighting his cancer and keeping him alive.

And as you can see, D is alive….and then some!  Check out the Savvy Sister in action at a recent sit-down in The Windy City:

It’s clear that there was a definite strategy to D’s survival, and it’s a strategy that I am finding more common among those who have seemed to stay a step ahead of their cancer diagnosis.  (Most of these strategies have been discussed in my book 100 Perks of Having Cancer plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It co-authored with fellow blogger  and cancer survivor Flo Strang.)

The captions you see in the video point out things that D did, and is doing, to live a happy and  healthy life…and it doesn’t stop with cancer.  These things can be applied to any adversity you have in your own life.

They are:

  • “Their crazy is my normal”. He was true to himself.
  • Be persistent. He pressed his doctor to test him because he knew something was wrong.
  • Choose your doctor wisely.  His doctor knew him and knew D would not give up on life.
  • Know your options and risks.  He refused chemo because he did his research.
  • Take a negative message and turn it into a positive one.  Told he would have cancer as a child, he started preparing for the fight instead of accepting his fate.
  • Have faith in what “is”.  Used what has happened in the past to lift and empower him to face current challenges.
  • Don’t let cancer dictate, define, or control your quality of life.  He is more than his disease…his situation…his circumstances.
  • Don’t let your circumstances dictate your happiness.  Only he can choose to find happiness in life…no matter what life brings.
  • Be mindful.  He’s learned to live in the moment which leads to better health and happiness.
  • Change your perception of food.  Food is either makes you strong, or makes you sick.
  • Never stop learning. He was open to alter his life choices for health and happiness based on any new information he found and he never stops searching!

D has had 9 surgeries to remove over 250 tumors.  He had a breast implant tissue expander inserted in between his scalp and skull to stretch the skin on his scalp so he could have reconstruction to repair the damage done when the tumors were removed on his head. (You can see a picture of D with his “hat” here)  For those of you who have had tissue expanders in your chest, just imagine the same thing…in your scalp!  He had 3rd degree burns on his back from radiation.  But through all the surgeries, doctor’s visits, medications, and pain, his attitude has not wavered and he has managed to keep exercising and weight lifting through it all.  He often says his work outs are what saved him and what keeps him going.

He is a plant-based eating, body building, cancer kicking, mindful practicing, positive thinking, fun-to-be-around, cool dude.  I honestly did not want the interview to end…

Follow D Anthony Evans here on Facebook and check out his website where you can see his story, soak up some inspiration, and take a look at his pictures.  He posts some pretty radical videos of workouts and weight lifting that he does on Facebook so I would definitely follow him there.  If you need motivation (or just need to be shamed into starting an exercise program), just watch D in action.

Please share if know someone who can use a kick in the ass.



Categories: cancer, cancer prevention, happiness, health, healthy living, vegan diet

Tags: , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. Brilliant. And a great summation of what it takes to survive probably anything from you.

  2. Listening to this inspiring man put hope in my struggle with breast cancer. I heard somewhere that one should not let cancer dictate one’s life and that is just I heard this man said. As my chemo treatment approaches, I have many fears what it is going to do to my well-being. I know positive attitude is certainly one of the main ways to combat the effects of cancer. I hope that i have the strength of this man.

    • You do have the strength….you just need tools to pull it out. Your well-being does not depend on what kind of chemo you’re going to get. It is totally dependent on you and you alone. You have the power to heal yourself…not your doctors! Please contact me privately (on the contact page) if you want to talk

  3. Wonderful and inspirational story, an amazing man, thanks for sharing this!

  4. What an inspiration! My 24-year-old son has a similar story – he is a 3.5 year survivor of MPNST on his spine. He also has NF, and has had many surgeries over his lifetime. He was given a 5% chance of 5-year survival, but is still stable, attributing it to eating “farm-to-table,” keeping a positive outlook on life, and medical marijuana. When he can afford it, he travels the US doing a food blog, http://www.roadfoodblog.com. His next adventure will be in June. He also moderates a chat room for kids and teens with NF.

    THANK YOU for making people more aware of this really awful cancer and of NF. MPNST is considered “rare” so there is no incentive for research. Treatments are the same as they were in the 1980s. D – you’re truly an NF Hero!! I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Amazing story, my cousin D has been an inspiration to all of our family. I love him dearly, he’s truly my hero!!!

  6. Wow! What a dude! Such an uplifting story. I’m off now to watch the vid. Thanks for this, Susan. His story certainly puts one’s own issues in perspective. Have a super weekend x

  7. Wow, what an amazing man — thanks for introducing us via Youtube! I learned so much from your short interview — thanks for the lift to my day!

  8. LOVED it!!! Very inspiring! You are both amazing people, thank you for sharing!

  9. Reblogged this on The Perks of Having Cancer! and commented:
    Too good NOT to share…..here is my smart and funny co-author, Susan, The Savvy Sister, in ACTION!

  10. Amazing story!!! D is a hero. Thanks for this great inspirational interview


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