Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cheat v.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

In phrases

cheat the worms (v.) [the worms are those encountered in the grave]

to recover from a serious illness.

[US]Living Age 1 July 209/1: ‘I have every faith in you.’ ‘Sir, the confidence is flattering; and I think between us, we may cheat the worms’.
[UK]J. Greenwood Little Ragamuffin 166: ‘You never mean to tell me that you’ve weathered it through!’ ‘Yes, sir, [...] he’s cheated the worms, as the saying is.’.
[UK]H. Baumann Londinismen (2nd edn).