'Only with God’s help and prayer will he beat it'

By Pieter van Zyl
05 March 2016

Jacques Esterhuizen, has been battling neuroblastoma – cancer of the nervous system – since his fourth birthday.

Six-year-old Jacques Esterhuizen has been battling neuroblastoma – cancer of the nervous system – since his fourth birthday.

“He has lived two years and nine months since his diagnosis when he was given only four months to live,” says his mother, Lizel Esterhuizen.

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“Only with God’s help and prayer will he beat it. He’s a super-fighter,” she says on the Facebook page she set up to update family and friends on his progress.

“Jacques is doing wonderfully well. The doctors are amazed by his recovery without intensive treatment. His cancer isn’t in remission but he’s otherwise healthy and doesn’t catch colds easily.

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“He’s happy and always busy and chatting. Grade 1 is a wonderful place to him. He thoroughly enjoys his friends and learning.”

The gutsy little boy crept into everyone’s heart when he started his school career at the beginning of this year.

At the end of June last year his family moved from the Kathu area in the Kalahari to Potchefstroom in North West to be closer to specialists in Johannesburg.

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Lizel’s husband, Jaco, is a network administrator in Sandton and commutes regularly. Jacques has a younger brother, Rian (3), and a sister, Carika (15 months).

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Neuroblastoma represents about half the cases of cancer in babies and it occurs in slightly more boys than girls. Most cases are diagnosed before the age of five.

Jacques’ cancer count was initially 1 372. Within two months it rose to 1 732. Now, after taking eight treatments of chemo pills (he takes them for seven days every month) it’s down to 545.

Before the treatment he’d stopped walking because some of the tumours were in his knees. The main tumour was in his abdomen and he’d stopped eating. He lived on fluids, says Lizel.

She says the cancer spread from his nervous system to his knees, abdomen and marrow. He was to receive chemo eight times.

If there was no improvement after four treatments the treatment was to have been stopped, Jacques would have been given medication for pain and he would probably have died within four to eight weeks.

He also received a stem cell transplant and radiation treatment. On 4 May 2015 doctors had no more hope for him – but the brave little patient kept fighting.

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“The chemo pill in 2014 was supposed to help prevent the spread of the cancer and slow the growth of the tumour. But by God’s mercy it’s shrunk by three quarters and all his glands have also shrunk as much,” Lizel says.

“We can only keep praying and believe that with grace from Above the tumour will shrink completely and the cancer cells will vanish.”

Jacques is still receiving the chemo pill treatment for seven days a month. “Everything is going very well at school,” Lizel says.

“He’s not struggling: he spends a full day at school, doesn’t get tired and is eating normally. He’s just a funny fast-talker bursting with love. He’s always dishing out hugs and kisses.”

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