Ruan’s Story

Categories: Care.

“Morning, Mom. Just a cup of coffee and I’m off.”

“Not having breakfast, Son? Is something the matter?”

“Just a busy day, finalising some stuff for the big move. England is far away and I can’t leave anything undone.”

“Are you sure that’s all? You look pale.”

“I’m fine, Mom, really. It’s just this tooth that kept me awake last night, but I took some pain tablets and it seems to be getting better. Don’t worry about it.”

“Well, your health is important. The British army won’t take you in if there is something wrong. I suggest you see your dentist in a hurry. Shall I make an appointment for you?”

“If you don’t mind. I’d appreciate it very much. The sooner the better, let’s get it done with.” Kissing Cheryl on the forehead he left the house. He was hardly out the front door when the pain hit with a vengeance.

Back from the dentist, he could only lay down. Life was returning to his mouth where the wisdom teeth had been removed and the pain was severe. He took more tablets and lay down again, but there was no rest. The pain did not subside, on the contrary. It was getting worse.

Back to the doctor.The diagnoses, after numerous tests, were devastating. Tumours were found in his throat, pressing against the nerves to his brain. More tests confirmed the worst: malignant, inoperable cancer of the aggressive kind.

Treatment was to be started immediately. Radiation as well as chemo-therapy. If the tumours could be killed, there was a chance.The initial shock was enormous, but strong in the Lord as they were, Ruan and his family accepted what had happened and left it all in His hands. From their side they would do all they could and trusted the Father for the rest, even if the outcome were not what they wanted.

Sick and weak after treatments, Ruan was not a person to lie down and rest. He went into the streets, talking to young people, drug addicts, “tikkoppe”, who wander around aimlessly, begging or mugging to satisfy their addictions.

“Look at me, here I am, fighting for my life, fighting a battle against cancer that I did not ask for. You guys have a choice, I don’t. You can change your lives, get out of the mess and do something with your lives. Do something worthwhile. I will probably not get out alive, but you guys can. Stop the nonsense, turn to Jesus and get your lives turned around. Appreciate what you have: life!”

Ruan reacted well to the treatments, then later fell back again, getting worse. And so it went on. Four years later, it was clear Ruan was not making progress. He got weaker. Cheryl, his mother asked Cansa for help, expecting some form of assistance since she was a member of the board.

The problem was that Cansa, its main objective being research, could not offer any help.This was where Hospice stepped in. Hospice provided all the assistance needed to take care of Ruan in his last few weeks.

Medical care was administered at his home. Regular visits by a qualified nursing specialist medication and comfort was provided. Where there is life, there is hope and so the family kept on hoping.

Sick, weak and hardly able to move, Ruan one day asked his mother to take him to Canal Walk. He went into the bank, withdrew an amount of money and the just made it to the nearest jeweller. Back at home he opened the tiny box and presented a ring to his fiancée.
“I was going to give you this ring when I was going to England, but now I’m not going anymore. You must have it now.”

Finally treatment was stopped. There was nothing the doctors could do for Ruan. Hospice prepared the family for the worst, providing counselling and comfort, always giving them honest answers and never evading the inevitable. At this stage the patient was to be kept comfortable, all his physical needs taken care of during daily visits by Hospice staff.

“Mom, don’t you greet them?” he asked his mother one morning when she entered his room.


“All these people in my room. Don’t you see the people?”

“What people? Where?”

“Look, see? Here is Peter right by my bed.”

“Peter? Who is Peter? I don’t know any Peter”

“Mom! Peter the Apostle if Jesus. Look here he is. Say hello to him. He came to visit me, together with all the others.”

Cheryl was as astonished as heartbroken. Peter of the Bible had always been Ruan’s favourite character. At that moment she knew for sure that her son would not live.

He was already being welcomed into Heaven. Shortly after that Ruan started breathing heavily, making strange noises. The Hospice caregiver told Cheryl to gather the family for the final greeting while he was still conscious. Everybody responded immediately. Family came from as far as the Eastern Cape, Ugie, where his mother grew up.

It was a matter of hours. That handsome young man whose life had so much promise a few years before, was no more. He had been chosen to leave this life and meet his Saviour earlier than expected.

Being greatly loved by one and all, his funeral was, though sad at the loss of an extraordinary young man, at the same time a celebration of a great, God glorifying life that will always be remembered with sweet thoughts of gratitude to have had him for the while he was there.

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