'I'm not ready to die' - former top cop who beat cancer

2015-11-20 08:12
Bushie Engelbrecht (Peregrine Risk Management)

Bushie Engelbrecht (Peregrine Risk Management)

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Johannesburg - There were only 12 words that went through retired police officer Bushie Engelbrecht's mind when he was diagnosed with colon cancer: "I'm not afraid to die, but I'm definitely not ready to die."

Engelbrecht is a decorated former police officer who served in the SA police force for 43 years. He was Gauteng Deputy Provincial Commissioner of Detective Services, Crime Intelligence and Visible Policing when he retired in 2010.

He has since started a private investigations company.

A subtle pain in his leg had led Engelbrecht to consult his doctor. During a casual conversation between the two, Engelbrecht happened to mention that he had seen blood in his stool a few months earlier.

"He turned around and asked me, 'What do you think it is?' and I said 'I think I've got a bleeding ulcer' and then he sort of threw a bucket of ice water in my face and said, 'Why couldn't it be cancer?'.

"I said, 'I don't believe I have cancer, I don't have any symptoms'."

Engelbrecht was then referred to a specialist who confirmed that he indeed had cancer of the colon and rectum.

- Read more on colon cancer on Health24

"There was quite a large tumour and an operation was imminent. I was also in phase 4 of the cancer. It was explained to me what the phases 1 to 6 entail, then I realised that this is like a death sentence," he said.

"You don't know what to think [at that moment] because you know that your expiry date is very close by."

During his operation, doctors removed 28cm of Engelbrecht's colon and rectum.

Prior to the operation, though, he had undergone a number of scans. His doctor had been surprised to find that, for a stage 4 cancer patient, Engelbrecht's cancer had not spread to any other part of his body.

"So after the operation when he was giving me feedback, he said to me, 'You're not getting any pills, tablets, medicine, you don't have to change your diet, you are not getting any radiation, chemo, nothing. You are totally clean," Engelbrecht said.

"And he couldn't understand and said to me I should find out from the Lord why there wasn't any contamination and find out what the Lord plans [to do] with me and to go and do it."

'I feel I can do so much more'

After his operation on February 10, Engelbrecht was asked to return for a check-up three months later in May. There was still no trace of any cancer. Last week, he went for yet another check up. Still, no cancer was found.

"I'm very lucky and I thank God for that. It is by his grace.

"I was also told that if it wasn't discovered... I would most probably not have made [it to] this December. That is why I'm so pleased, I am extremely pleased about it."

Since the operation, Engelbrecht has ensured he makes time to do the things he really wants to do.

"One thing I realised from all this is, every one of us is going to die at some stage. You just don't know when.

"And then you start thinking, there are so many things you still want to do... There's a million things. Then all of a sudden, I start finishing things that I didn't have time for. I make time for them.

"I'm not afraid to die, but I'm definitely not ready to die. I feel I can do so much more before reaching the stage where I can say 'Okay, I want to meet my creator'."

Engelbrecht will turn 65 in December, the same month he had told his wife he would be retiring from the business - for the second time. After nearly losing his life, he has decided to keep doing what he enjoyed.

"Ag, I enjoy the work that I do. It is quite busy and we are successful [at what we do] and that helps a lot. Doing things for other people, [things] that make them happy."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  health

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