Teen complaining of double vision and headaches now being treated for brain tumours

Christian prepped for surgery. Photo: Supplied

Christian prepped for surgery. Photo: Supplied

Published Oct 3, 2022


Cape Town - A Cape Town teen who went to hospital after complaining of headaches, double vision and nausea got the dreaded news about brain tumours on his brain.

Christian Steenkamp, 19, from Durbanville was a normal teenager who matriculated last year.

Taking a gap year, Christian was working for Concept Foods, a catering company and he loved it.

According to his mother, Niki Steenkamp, 45, on September 4, she took her son, the eldest of four, to Durbanville Mediclinic after his symptoms worsened.

Christian after he came out of theatre to have the tumours removed from his brain. Photo: supplied

“He was complaining about headache, nausea, double vision, vertigo etc. When I took him to the emergency room he was immediately admitted and given an MRI.

“The MRI showed a mass on the brain, and he was taken into ICU and put on medication to start reducing the swelling around the mass.

“The following day he was seen by Dr Corrie Botha, who told us that leaving these tumours would mean Christian would have been dead by the end of the year.

Niki Steenkamp has been by her son, Christian's side. Here the pair are pictured after Christian had surgery to have tumours removed from his brain. Photo: supplied

“He has a 12mm tumour and another 3mm tumour,” Niki said.

Christian was booked for surgery on September 9 to remove the tumours.

Niki, a wedding planner by profession said the family is now trying to raise funds to meet the medical costs as the medical aid is not covering all costs involved.

Christian Steenkamp, 19, visited by his brother, Aaron, 18, in hospital. Photo: Supplied

While the operation was a success, the family soon found out Christian has a Grade 4 medulloblastoma. This means the tumours are malignant (cancerous) and fast-growing.

The teen was immediately booked for six weeks of radiation treatment and chemotherapy five days a week.

By September 19, the family was hit with another heavy blow.

Christian’s cancer spread down his spinal cord.

Nike and Christian Steenkamp on the way home from hospital. Photo: supplied

While he was sent home, Christian will now need to receive six weeks of photon radiation to his whole brain and spinal cord, five days a week at the Vincent Palotti Hospital.

“This will be followed by four rounds of intravenous chemotherapy of 21 days each.

“There are three nodes on the spinal cord, T3, T4 and T6.

“There is a 73% survival rate of five years - if clear after that there is a good chance of a longer life span, with damage effects of the radiation later in life.

“Even though this all sounds hectic, Christian said 'I feel like I'm not dying for the first time’, and we were given more hope than we've received to date.

“He has had to be bathed, cleaned by nurses, that trauma people don’t tell you. How I feel? There is a different answer. It’s moment to moment. If he is ok, I am ok. I have heard him telling me a few times ‘I am dying’. As a mother, hearing that breaks you.

“One night, I was lying in bed with him at the hospital and he said: ‘hold me, I am going to die’.

“To see that sadness and fear in my child is indescribable,” Niki told IOL.

She said while in hospital, no one was there to give any good news. Only facts. And while that may be difficult for her, she has had to face it and be strong for Christian.

“Right now, I am just happy to have him home. I am extremely appreciative of the love and support we have been getting,” she said.

Niki said, Christian, being the person he is, is worried about not being able to donate blood as he is a regular blood donor and hopes to be back in the kitchen soon - its where his passion lies.

The mother of four has since started a Back-A-Buddy page in order to raise funds for Christian.

“I cannot picture my life without Christian. We have to do everything… this cannot just be it.

“I lost my dad last year. I also lost my brother to cancer, he left behind three children, my sister had breast cancer a couple of years ago and now Christian.

“While our technology may not be at the advance stage it needs to be in South Africa. I urge people to do genetic testing,” Niki said.

The Back-A-Buddy page has since raised over R180 000, however, the fundraising target is R250 000 to cover immediate treatment and bills.

Christian’s siblings, Aaron, 18 and Zara, 16, will be hosting a rock climbing family day on December 3, the family day initiative is aimed at raising funds for their brother. The event is called “Climb for Christian”.

Niki told IOL more fundraising events are being planned.

If you would like to assist Christian, donations can be made via the Back-A-Buddy page or contact Niki Steenkamp via email at [email protected].

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