I was diagnosed with acute Leukemia on 5 Nov 1997. I had 3 7-day chemo therapy courses prior to having a bone-marrow transplant on 13 Aug 1998. During the chemo treatment I met Chris and Tina, Chris and I also shared a room for some time. Tina later, with the help of other parents started The Sunflower Fund. I was a fighter from day one and was in charge of the illness and ensured that I did as much research as possible. In this process I searched the internet and with all the information, I was ready to take on the challenge.
I was also lucky in the sense that I was treated at a world class facility at Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic, under the guidance of the brilliant Prof Peter Jacobs – one of the leaders in the world on bone-marrow transplants. It was he who told me one morning to go and see “Dr Sperm” – meaning that I had to store some of my sperm before they started the chemo therapy. At that point in time, you don’t think about sperm, believe me. My mother also spent the entire time of the treatment (more than a year) with me and she was at my side every day. My father commuted between George and Cape Town and kept the family together. Being a tennis player I told myself I was in a tennis battle of note – almost like the Federer / Roddick 5 set battle at Wimbledon a few weeks ago. I was not going to give in. I told myself even if it takes months to get my counts up, then so be it, but I am not going to give in. Tennis is a very mental game and in the end it is most likely that the one with the superior mind will win the match. My youngest brother, Johan, was a perfect match and I am still having fun today with his marrow.
After my treatment I lived with my parents in George, where I met my beautiful wife, Sonika. We got married in February 2006 and we had our honeymoon in Paris. Last year we decided to have in-vitro treatment as I had 5 straws of frozen sperm which was now more than 10 years old. We had a great team of doctors again – Drs van der Merwe, Siebert and Prof Kruger of Vincent Pallotti. Seeing that my sperm was not mobile after all these years of being frozen, they used a method called icsi where they inject a single sperm into the egg after being harvested from Sonika. After a few days they put the 2 best embryos back into the uterus of Sonika. We then had to wait for 2 weeks and then went for a blood test – the waiting was very hard, but when we got the good news we felt fantastic. There was even better news in the pipeline………..after going for the first sonar, Dr van der Merwe told us Sonika is expecting twins.
Two beautiful boys, Justin and Grant were born on Sunday 14 June 2009. Again we had such a good team of doctors, Dr Monty Brink took care of Sonika’s pregnancy and Dr Jo Lund is taking care of the 2 boys which were born a little premature. We are sure Prof Jacobs is also watching over them.
We really want to thank the team of doctors and pay tribute to their dedication and geniuses. This story is testimony that South Africa has brilliant doctors. We also would like to thank our employers without their support the road would have been a little tougher, the Vineyard Hotel & Spa where Gawie is an executive manager and Jeff Pulker and Associates where Sonika as part of the administration team. Last but not least, all our family and friends who have supported us the last 9 months – you now who you are.