Cape Town - Wesley Fourie is a “champion of hope” after doctors gave him five years to live.
Wesley, 34, was diagnosed in 2011 with medulloblastoma, the most common type of cancerous brain tumour in children. Brain Cancer Awareness Month is celebrated this month, and Wesley recalled his journey.
The Worcester resident woke up one morning feeling different but could not place his finger on it. He decided to visit the doctor, who said it was an ear infection, but he felt the same as the weeks passed by.
Wesley went for a second opinion, where he was told the same thing, but this time, the medication worked for about a week.
As time progressed, he developed symptoms such as neck spasms, feeling light-headed and double-vision.
His father, Etienne Fourie, then went back to the last doctor his son saw, explaining the symptoms Wesley was experiencing. This made the doctor realise that something else was wrong, and he decided to write a referral letter for Worcester Hospital.
A few tests were done, including a CT scan, which confirmed that Wesley had a tumour on the brain stem. He was then transferred to Tygerberg Hospital, where he spent 18 months, which included two operations. He has been cancer-free for more than nine years.
Wesley said he felt relieved when he found out what was wrong with him.
“I was just thankful to know what was really going on with me. I knew at that moment, I would be okay, and they were going to make me better.
“After my second operation, the world felt different. It felt like my reality differs from normal people. Physically, I can’t do some of the normal things that I could do before, such as running and walking distances.
“I was diagnosed with a hip disease last month due to the radiation, but otherwise, I am healthy. I am on a few Facebook groups where I give advice to patients. I feel like if I can do it, someone else can do it better than me,” he said.
Etienne said: “When we found out he had cancer, doctors told us he had five years to live, but today, he is still alive. They said he is a miracle patient and, as his father, this brings tears of joy.
“I am thankful to Tygerberg Hospital and the doctors that operated on him. But also proud of Wesley because he stayed strong and positive, and I believe that helped a great deal. We still have a path to walk with his recovery, but I am there by his side and love to help where I can. I believe it also brought us closer as father and son. Wesley is my champion of hope,” he said.
Health promotion national manager at Cansa Lorraine Govender said: “Most brain tumours are only diagnosed once symptoms appear. Many, except for some tumours located at the skull base, can be successfully removed surgically. However, due to the infiltrative nature of these lesions, tumour recurrence, even following an apparently complete surgical removal, is not uncommon.
“We have worked with many volunteers that have had primary brain tumours who have lived a good quality of life despite having brain cancer. A major factor is the support that they can receive. It’s important to belong to a community that understands your journey and experiences,” she said.