Derek Watts, well-known among South Africans for his role as anchor and presenter on Carte Blanche, passed away on Tuesday morning, 22 August, after a battle with cancer.
Following the news of the iconic broadcaster’s death at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on his 75th birthday, tributes have been pouring in all over social media.
After being formally diagnosed with skin cancer in 2022, which then spread to his lungs, Carte Blanche announced in June this year that Watts would take a break from the camera and his duties to focus on his health.
In a clip shared on social media earlier this year, he shared that he was rushed to the ICU after a suspected stroke. He collapsed while with his family in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, and initially thought he’d had a stroke or heart attack, but he was diagnosed with a severe case of sepsis.
Dedicated and kind
Extending their condolences to the family, M-Net issued a statement: “We remember him as a dedicated investigative journalist and a long-standing presenter of Carte Blanche. His unwavering commitment to his work and his determination in the face of challenges was truly remarkable.”
Carte Blanche’s executive producer, John Webb, also issued a short statement saying, “We’re all deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague and patriarch. Having been with Carte Blanche from the beginning, Derek became synonymous with the show, and we acknowledge that it’s largely because of him that we have become who we are. Derek was a consummate professional and a dyed-in-the-wool television journalist. But, more importantly, he was a profoundly decent and kind man. We will miss him.”
Viewers, colleagues, and supporters of the veteran journalist whose face has been known in our living rooms for over 30 years continue to pay tribute to Watts on social media and express their shock and sadness.
Early diagnosis is key
According to the Cancer Association of South Africa, lung cancer ranks as the number one cause of cancer deaths in South Africa. It is also among the top three cancers in men and ranks seventh in women.
They also emphasise that early diagnosis is key, so it is important that people learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of this common but serious disease.
The Mayo Clinic underlines that people who smoke have the greatest risk of lung cancer, though lung cancer can also occur in people who have never smoked. The risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you’ve smoked.
“Lung cancer typically doesn’t cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur when the disease is advanced.”
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- A new cough that doesn’t go away
- Coughing up blood, even a small amount
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Bone pain
Although there’s no sure way to prevent lung cancer, the Mayo Clinic recommends ways one can reduce their risk, such as not smoking or stopping smoking, avoiding second-hand smoke, testing their home for radon, avoiding carcinogens at work, choosing a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly.
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