From being diagnosed with MND in May 2011 to now, this is what’s been happening in ex-Springbok Joost van der Westhuizen’s life . . .
- May 2011 – Joost is provisionally diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND). This comes after his doctor friend Dr Henry Kelbrick noticed a lessening of strength in his right arm during a weekend break at Sun City.
- July 2011 – An American motor neurone disease specialist, Dr Erik Pioro of Cleveland, Ohio, confirms Joost is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “Dr Pioro has confirmed that Joost does have ALS, which gives him an 80 per cent chance of surviving for two to five years,” Dr Jody Pearl, Joost’s neurologist at the time, says in a statement.
- August 2011 – Joost undergoes stem cell treatment to repair his muscles, which were damaged during his rugby career.
- September 2011 – Joost starts speaking with difficulty, particularly when stressed.
- November 2011 – The J9 Foundation is formed to support other ALS sufferers.
- December 2011 – Joost says he’s making videos for his children to watch when they’re 18 so they’ll remember him.
- He complains his estranged wife, singer Amor Vittone, is keeping his children away from him.
- April 2012 – He starts using goat serum to treat his ALS. The medication is still experimental but after two months’ treatment Joost writes on the J9 Foundation website that he can see an improvement in his condition. He can’t inject the serum himself because his hands are too weak.
- August 2012 – Joost admits the stem cell treatment hasn’t worked.
- April 2013 – Joost is so weak he sometimes has to use a wheelchair and a walking frame. He also needs help with eating. He says he’s made peace with the fact he will soon be on a ventilator and he’s preparing his children for the day he dies by telling them he might go to Jesus now.
- June 2013 – Joost begins his treatment with controversial therapist Anton Neethling. Treatment includes a strict detox process and frequency treatment. For the first time Joost seems positive and says he decided a few months ago to try everything in an attempt to get well. At this time he also releases a book, 99 Dinge Wat Ek Wil Hê My Kinders Moet Weet (99 Things I Want My Children to Know). It’s dedicated to his son, Jordan (9), and daughter, Kylie (7), and he says he hopes it will help them make decisions when he’s gone.
- September 2013 – Early in September a cellphone message is spread that Joost has died. Alarmed messages stream in to YOU’s Facebook page, but Joost quickly reassures fans on Twitter he’s still alive. Later, in an interview with YOU, he says he’s not only alive but has been cured by Anton’s treatment, and only his nerves need to recover. He’s still using goat serum but admits he doesn’t know if it’s working.
- He also says his relationship with Amor is largely restored and they’re now “like man and wife”.
Extra sources: beeld.com, channel24.com, joost.co.za, rapport.co.za