Chicago-Area Man Fights Cancer By ‘Training To Live’

(CBS) — He had every reason to quit – a rare cancer expected to kill him in six months.

If he survived, this type of cancer would never go away.

But he made a decision and adopted a strategy: training to live.

CBS 2’s Derrick Young reports.

On the surface, D. Anthony Evans looks in prime shape. Come closer, and you’ll understand his fight.

His story goes back some 30 years. At age 6, the Evanston native was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a rare condition where tumors grow on nerve tissue anywhere in the body, without notice.

If it doesn’t kill you, living with it feels like death.

Over the last 29 months, he has had more than 325 tumors removed from his body, he says.

These include cancer between the scalp and the skull and a 2-pound tumor that was living on his spine. And yet Evans takes such good care of the body that attacks him.

“The cancer in me is not gone,” he says. “We have just made an agreement. I am not going to put anything in my body to irritate it, and it’s going allow me to look like this and thrive.”

Dr. James Tonsgard has treated Evans since he was a child, at the University of Chicago. He says Evans has approached the disease like he approaches everyday life.

“I think he’s tackled the problem in a different way through his diet and exercise and come up with a positive solution,” Tonsgard said.

Evans doesn’t know when the next tumor will come, but he doesn’t worry about it.

The 38-year-old is on a strict plant-based diet, and is in the gym three to six hours every day — preparing to come back stronger.

He’s also spending his time inspiring others through motivational speaking, serving as an ambassador with the American Cancer Society, and training others, including children, to live.

“Keep your hands up, tucked, don’t stop, and come out swinging,” he says.

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