Stewart Dickson MLA: 'King Charles is to be admired for sharing cancer diagnosis'

An Alliance Party MLA, who battled cancer in the public eye, has praised King Charles III for divulging that he has been diagnosed with a form of the illness.
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East Antrim MLA Stewart DIckson was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the summer of 2019, undergoing three rounds of chemotherapy and surgery before getting the all-clear.

Mr Dickson, who has been involved in politics since the 1970s, spoke to the Larne Times following the announcment from Buckingham Palace that King Charles has been diagnosed with a form of cancer.

The long-standing Alliance representative explained: “My diagnosis was in the public domain quite quickly. I had to explain to my family and then my colleagues as to why I would be away from the Assembly.

Stewart Dickson. (Pic: Contributed).Stewart Dickson. (Pic: Contributed).
Stewart Dickson. (Pic: Contributed).

"I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in July 2019. I had three rounds of chemotherapy and that was quite an ordeal. The first round floored me for around a week to 10 days.

“I was able to receive some of my treatment at home and was able to continue working during this time.

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"You experience hair loss, tiredness, you’re unable to eat and you’re taking powerful drugs- it’s really challenging.

"Ahead of my surgery, people were telling me ‘you’ve no idea what to expect’ and that it would be the hardest part of my cancer battle.

"I had surgery in December 2019. It was over nine and a half hours in theatre. Following the surgery I spent three weeks in intensive care and a further 12 weeks recovering in hospital.

"I was fortunate in a way that the Coronavirus pandemic came and we went into lockdown and I was able to continue my recovery at home.

"Having experienced it on a personal level, although I don’t know what type of cancer the King has been diagnosed with, I can empathise with how he must be feeling at this time.

"The King has to be praised on being so open about his condition and sharing it with the public. I wish him well as he commences his treatment.”

Mr Dickson volunteers with OG Cancer NI and has urged anyone experiencing the symptoms to get in touch with their doctor.

He added: “OG Cancer NI provides a clinic at the City Hospital every Tuesday and there are at least five or six newly diagnosed patients coming each week.

"Oesophageal cancer is a rare cancer and is one of the eight least survivable forms of cancer. It is very important that it is caught early.

"My symptoms were hiccuping, coughing and difficulty swallowing, with food not going down the full way.

"If anyone is experiencing these symptoms, I would urge them to seek medical advice.

"Once it takes hold, it spreads very quickly. Luckily, mine hadn’t spread.

"King Charles is very brave for making his condition public. He will have some tough days ahead of him. Every time he leaves home, he will be in the public eye and he will be scrutinised. My thoughts are with him and the Royal Family at this time.”