He ain’t heavy: brother’s donation helps College pupil beat cancer

2010-06-17 00:00

MARITZBURG College grade 11 pupil Josh Rencken (16) is cancer-free and on the road to recovery after a successful stem cell transplant in Cape Town.

Josh’s family and the Maritzburg College community went on a drive in April to help raise funds for Josh, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukaemia in December while on a visit to friends in Cape Town.

His older brother Matthew (22), who was a perfect match, became his donor.

Speaking to The Witness from Cape Town where Josh will be recuperating for the next three months under the watchful eyes of his doctors, his mother Tina Rencken said the news was music to her ears.

“Josh’s diagnosis was the biggest shock for us as a family. We did not want to believe it. When our personal doctor confirmed the news the next day, it was devastating. We were anxious about going into the unknown and were not sure what to expect.

“But we’ve received unbelievable support. And I believe without it, we would have been overwhelmed,” she said.

Rencken is a teacher and has been fortunate to get the last term off work. But when the schools reopen, she will have to leave Josh with Matthew, who will look after him.

“Matthew has been amazing because, since Josh has had to miss school, he has been tutoring him. I will be leaving my car so that he is able to take his brother to hospital,” added Rencken.

Josh is being treated as an outpatient. He needs to go for treatment once a week and is taking a lot of medication.

But his family is hoping that he will be able to slot in the final term to still graduate with his classmates.

Asked how his being a donor for his brother has changed their relationship, Matthew said it has brought them closer. “We have always got along but in the last 10 years I have not really been around because of boarding school.

“We’ve had a chance to spend a lot of time together and get to know each other again,” said Matthew.

Matthew was going to London to work this year, but stayed in Cape Town to look after his brother instead.

According to Rencken, all Josh wants to do is get strong so he can get back to his life passion, cricket.

“Yesterday he ran 100 metres. He said he felt like an old man afterwards. But he is very positive and determined.

“It has been a dramatic change for him because he was super fit and was always on the move.”

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