Rudie Keyser and his mother Jomandè. Picture: Supplied.
Rudie Keyser and his mother Jomandè. Picture: Supplied.

‘Gentle giant’, 11, battles illness with lion’s heart

By Keagan Mitchell Time of article published Sep 7, 2020

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A gentle giant with the heart of a lion. That’s how Rudie Keyser, 13, is described by his parents.

Rudie was diagnosed last December with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a type of cancer that can damage tissue or cause lesions to form in one or more places in the body.

In September last year, the Grade 7 pupil at Laerskool Mikro was playing in the “green area” at his home and fell from a tree after imitating Tarzan.

He was left with scars and his mother, Jomandè, gave him pain medication and rubbed his leg with muscle-relaxing gels.

As the pain became worse, she made an appointment with their doctor and was referred to Tygerberg Hospital.

Keyser said: “The doctor examined my son and suggested an MRI scan was necessary to make a diagnosis. We got an appointment for December 19.

“However, the next day, I called around to see if we could get an earlier appointment at a private hospital. We got an appointment in mid-November and the doctor gave us the news that it was cancer.

“At this stage it was still unclear what type of cancer it was and only a biopsy would be able to determine that.”

The Keysers were referred back to Tygerberg Hospital and a CT-guided biopsy was done which confirmed that Rudie had Langerhans cell histiocytosis.

The mother of two said: “I was in shock and disbelief as Rudie was a healthy child.

“We are fortunate enough to have a good support group that helps us to stay afloat.”

Rudie is currently going for chemotherapy.

On August 4, he was admitted to the intensive care unit at Tygerberg Hospital as his body was struggling to adapt to the new chemotherapy.

A few days later, the young Kuils River resident was discharged and this week he went for a positron emission tomography (PET) scan to see what effect the new chemotherapy had had on the cancer and check for any organ damage. The family are still waiting for the results.

“Once we have those results, we will discuss a way forward with regards to treatment. Rudie is one of a kind, always smiling, staying positive and is our gentle giant with the heart of a lion,” she added.

Rudie said he was shocked and upset when they received the news.

“The support of friends and family keeps me motivated and God will let me win this battle. There is always hope by staying positive and seeing the bright side of life,” he said.

Cansa’s Tough Living with Cancer (TLC) Western Cape co-ordinator, Anthea-Lynn Lewis, said: “An average of 800 to 1 000 children are newly diagnosed with cancer annually in South Africa.

“It’s estimated that at least half of all children with cancer in South Africa are never diagnosed. Two-thirds of children with cancer never reach a specialist treatment centre for treatment.”

Cansa’s TLC programme focuses on:

– Raising awareness of cancers affecting children/teens and the importance of early detection.

– Providing tangible loving support to youth and families affected by cancer.

*As we celebrate Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Weekend Argus will feature children battling with the disease.

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