Dancers don’t need wings to fly. Australian Latin dancer Nestor Manuelian has been proving that. He has been battling stage 4 bowel cancer with metastases to the liver for over two years. A positive-spirited person, he keeps his spirits alive by dancing every night away.
Despite his oncologist’s prediction that last June would mark the end of his life, Manuelian decided not to accept it and continues to fight the battle against bowel cancer with grit and determination. He believes in looking way ahead to the future, rather than contemplating about the past. He says, “I have been dancing and running a Latin dance school for 15 years. I plan to continue doing so for another 20 years.”
Speaking to Happiest Health, the 48-year-old says, “Had I accepted my expiry date, which is last June, I probably may have given up. I chose to live my life past it. I chose to continue my life on a positive note and make the most out of everything. People should really focus on moving forward. You’ll always get better results,” he says.
He believes cancer is a race and we need to keep running. The moment we stop running, the disease catches up. “We run by eating, exercising, keeping our minds busy, setting goals and pushing ourselves and never looking back. The moment we look back or feel sorry for ourselves, cancer can turn into a very cut-throat disease,” he says. And he does not plan to stop running in that race anytime soon either.
Manuelian was diagnosed with bowel cancer in August 2020, just after the whole world had locked down due to Covid. “The initial symptoms were just mainly blood when I used to go to the toilet. A couple of years before diagnosis, I was told by the doctor that I had diverticulosis [when bulges form in the inner walls of the intestine]. It had gotten to the point where I had a really sore stomach. I went to the hospital, did some tests and that’s when I found that I had stage 4 bowel cancer,” he shares.
Being a Latin dancer and compere, he was always fit and healthy. But cancer does not discriminate and it can touch anyone, anytime. “I have a very athletic physique. I ate a balanced meal, mostly meat and vegetables. I do not actually know what caused the bowel cancer,” he says.
His initial treatment included a surgery where one-third of his bowel, 45 lymph nodes and a third of his liver were removed. He then started chemotherapy, which lasted six months. He got a break from cancer, but only to be attacked by it again after three months. “I had surgery and multiple chemotherapy sessions. Various tumours developed in the liver again. As I had undergone too many operations, I took chemotherapy for six months. I got rid of all tumours except for one or two. But they were small enough then to affect me anyway,” he recalls.
He will undergo chemotherapy for three months to reverse the size of those tumours and get rid of them eventually.
Dancing keeps him going
He says nothing in life can let him down, not even cancer. He has never stopped dancing, compering and travelling for national and international gigs while undergoing chemotherapies and surgeries for bowel cancer. “I continue to push myself. I do boxing for exercise. I still dance. I think that’s why I’ve been able to recover fast after chemotherapies and surgeries,” he says.
He ensures that he does not stop dancing. “Even though I’m being given these chemotherapies and surgeries, I make sure I don’t stop dancing or moving around or stop eating. I always keep my head up and continue to look forward,” he says.