Our son Eduan was diagnosed with an inoperable Stage III brainstem tumour on Friday, the 1st of July 2011. This was four days before his sixth birthday.
As the prognosis for this type of the tumour is very bad, he started with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment at Unitas Hospital in Centurion on the 17th of July 2016. While this combined treatment protocol has the potential for severe side effects, he came through it experiencing very little of it. We believe that the thousands of prayers from people around the world carried him through this trying experience, keeping him very positive throughout. We quickly came to realise that you don’t need to be an adult to be an example of bravery to others. He was the bravest person we have ever met, big or small!
Eduan went for another MRI scan on the 13th of October 2011, and his doctors were delighted with the results. It appeared from the results of the scan as if the treatment protocol was having an effect on the tumour. He continued with chemotherapy, using a fairly experimental treatment imported from Cuba, and there was cause for celebration as the tumour had shrunk significantly by Christmas 2011. We were all very relieved and hopeful.
2012 started out on a positive note, which unfortunately were not to last. While treatments continued, it appeared as if the tumour had built up a resistance to it, and we started to see signs of its physical effects on him. In March 2012, following another set of scans, the doctor advised us that she would recommend halting the treatments, as the tumour had again grown and the treatment clearly had no further effect on it.
Eduan was admitted to hospital on the 2nd of April, and passed away from complications linked to his brainstem tumour on the 3rd of April 2012, 3 months before his 7th birthday.
We held a memorial service in his honour, after which friends and family released hundreds of brightly coloured balloons, symbolising him being released from his physical suffering here on earth.
Going through an experience like this puts an extreme amount of pressure on a family. The huge amount of support provided by the Unitas Hospital Oncology staff (the nurses as well as Dr Charmaine Jacobs), CHOC and Rainbows and Smiles was invaluable to maintain some sort of normalcy within the chaos of hospital visits, scans, treatments etc. etc.
The support they showed us as a family, especially with other children involved, enabled us to come through this horrific, stressful time as a stronger unit. Without them the experience could easily have been overwhelming. Our time dealing with Eduan’s illness lasted 9 months, and we were lucky in the sense that treatment could be done on an outpatient basis, meaning we could go home after every scan or treatment.
For other families, the timeframe for treatment can stretch into years, often with extended periods of hospital stay. This wreaks havoc on normal family life, which is why the work that is done by CHOC and others in support of these families is so important.
We sincerely encourage you to take advantage of supporting a campaign like this, as the little bits here and there help more than what you can imagine.
Good luck to Pete, and we support every step of this journey!
Schalk and Francis