Dentico Patient of the Month Crispian Anyster speaks out about his difficult journey overcoming cancer and COVID-19, which has given him a new lease on life.
At face value, Crispian comes across as your ordinary young man from the northern suburbs. Hailing from Belhar, he’s an IT software developer, who has a deep love for music.
“I come from a family of musicians, so you can say it’s in my blood,” Crispian explains. “I play the violin. Why I enjoy my job in IT, it would definitely be my dream to make music my full-time career one day.”
While this might sound customary to some, Crispian speaks dearly about music because it’s been a passion that has carried him through the most challenging stages in his life.
When you learn about his story, especially his personal battles over the past five years, you’ll understand why music played a critical role during this time and why this young man is far from ordinary.
Crispian is a cancer survivor. And more recently, a COVID-19 survivor.
His remarkable story is not only the fact that he beat both the disease and virus, but it was the manner in how he overcame them that was truly inspiring as his circumstances nearly turned out for the worst.
He recalls the build-up to receiving the news about his cancer in 2016 vividly.
“I had been struggling with a lump in my neck for a few weeks. My GP gave me an anti-inflammatory course of tablets, but the issue was persistent. I had already completed three rounds of medication and the lump would just return. In hindsight, all the signs of cancer were there – I suffered fatigue easily, had no appetite, and found myself scratching a lot. At the time, I didn’t know any better. I didn’t think this could be as serious as cancer… I didn’t think this would happen to me,” explained Crispian.
“I remember the day it became a serious issue… it was a cold and wet winter’s Friday in July 2016, and I was on my way home from work. I remember a sudden sharp stabbing pain in my neck. When I got home, I spoke with my parents that I needed to go to the hospital urgently. Upon arrival, I was medicated to subside the pain. I was then advised to visit a specialist.
“When I walked into the specialist’s surgery a few days prior to being treated at the emergency hospital, he could immediately tell that the lump in my neck area was cancer. And this was confirmed after a few tests and scans. I was shocked at how this all happened so suddenly.”
Crispian was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which spread from his neck to his chest. He underwent an urgent operation to remove the lump and had to undergo chemotherapy to remove the cancer.
During the treatment, there were additional complications that made the road to recovery more challenging.
The chemotherapy treatment was quite abrasive on his body. So much so, he struggled with the damages already caused by the cancer as well as Scoliosis of the spinal cord in the neck area and broken C2 vertebrae. He spent extended periods in bed and had to undergo an operation to repair the damage.
The operating doctor for his neck surgery suffered the loss of his father on the day of the operation, which created an emotional environment in surgery.
After the operation, there were slight complications as the wound wasn’t stitched effectively and he had to return to the hospital for three weeks to resolve this issue.
Despite these setbacks, Crispian went on to enjoy a full recovery and was medically declared cancer-free on 7 March 2017.
“To say I was relieved is a major understatement. I had to undergo 8 cancer treatments over six months, and each one really tested me physically, mentally, as well as emotionally,” he said.
“What really helped me to cope with all these hardships was music and a very strong support structure. It was God’s gift to me during these tough times. It was my escape from my difficult reality and it kept my mind focused and energised. I don’t think I would’ve made it without music and the full support of my family. It helped me find the strength to push through. Most of all music saved my life.”
Crispian experienced another ordeal more recently when he contracted COVID-19. Luckily, he endured a full recovery but warns the public to take care during the current second wave.
“COVID-19 is a different challenge altogether. Not being able to breathe is a terrible experience, as well as losing some of your senses. But I was lucky to recover, especially considering the fact that I have previous underlying issues,” said Crispian.
“Seeing so many lives lost to the pandemic has been terrible. The disease spreads so easily… even when you’re careful in a family setting like I was. I truly hope everyone plays their part in flattening the curve.”
Looking ahead, Crispian is inspired to make the most of life and share his story, with the hopes to motivate others.
He also thanks Dentico for the platform to share his experiences.
“I don’t take it for granted that I could’ve died. But I asked God to give me strength, especially during the challenging moments, and He delivered,” explained Crispian.
“I now plan to use my life story to inspire others to believe they can achieve anything they put their mind to, no matter how difficult life gets.
“Thanks to Dentico for the platform to share my story. And to Dr. Nichole Hendricks and her team for always providing great dental care and service to our community. It’s no surprise to see the Dentico surgery grow from strength to strength as they always go out of their way for all patients.”
As Dentico’s Patient of the Month, Crispian Anyster will receive an exciting Dentico Hamper! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with us.