LAST YEARS

CityPress - - Sport - Com­piled by RETHA FICK and HANTI OTTO Sources: sarugby.co.za, scrum.com; wikipedia.org

May 2011

Dr Henry Kel­brick, a sports doc­tor and for­mer Blue Bull team doc­tor, and a friend of Van der Westhuizen’s for many years, was wrestling with Van der Westhuizen in a swim­ming pool in Sun City when he no­ticed his friend’s right arm was a lot weaker than his left arm. Van der Westhuizen’s tongue also started to slur a few days later. Kel­brick took Van der Westhuizen to two neu­rol­o­gists, who di­ag­nosed the dis­ease June 2011 Van der Westhuizen did not re­act to in­ten­sive treat­ment. He trav­elled with his neu­rol­o­gist, Dr Jody Pearl, to the US for ex­perts there to make a fi­nal di­ag­no­sis. The SA Rugby Leg­ends’ As­so­ci­a­tion col­lected funds for the jour­ney

July 2011

Shortly af­ter their re­turn from the US Pearl con­firmed that Van der Westhuizen was suf­fer­ing from a mo­tor neu­ron dis­ease that was in­ter­rupt­ing the sig­nals from his brain to his mus­cles and warned that pa­tients later de­velop prob­lems breath­ing

Au­gust 2011

Van der Westhuizen vol­un­teered to un­dergo ex­per­i­men­tal stem cell treat­ment be­ing tri­aled in South Africa in a quest to find a cure for MND

Fe­bru­ary 2012

Van der Westhuizen’s dis­ease spread so fast that he needed help to get dressed. He had therapy from a bioki­neti­cist and a phys­io­ther­a­pist, in­jec­tions and re­ceived three stem cell treat­ments. Pearl stopped treat­ing Van der Westhuizen af­ter ru­mours of a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship be­tween them. She de­nied the ru­mours

July 2012

Van der Westhuizen vis­ited an­other MND suf­ferer, but walked with dif­fi­culty. His dis­ease af­fected his speech and his hands, which curled into his wrists

May 2013

He could not stand with­out as­sis­tance. His friends said his mind was still sharp, but he smiled with great dif­fi­culty

Septem­ber 2013

Van der Westhuizen sought help from self­de­clared health guru An­ton Neeth­ling. Neeth­ling ad­mit­ted he did not have any med­i­cal qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but claimed he could heal Van der Westhuizen

Oc­to­ber 2013

An ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion to stop a book about him is turned down. More than 10 000 copies of the book Joost and Amor: Be­hind the Head­lines had al­ready been dis­trib­uted

Amor Vit­tone an­nounced that she was pre­par­ing a room in her house so that a weak­ened Van der Westhuizen could live with her and their two chil­dren and be cared for

Au­gust 2014

A doc­u­men­tary about his life and his strug­gle against MND, Joost: Game of Glory is re­leased at a film fes­ti­val

Oc­to­ber 2014

With the aid of a ro­bot suit linked to his brain­waves, Van der Westhuizen walked at El­lis Park be­fore the Spring­bok Test against the All Blacks

Fe­bru­ary 2015

All Black-leg­end Jonah Lomu vis­ited his for­mer World Cup op­po­nent in Jo­han­nes­burg. A few days later Van der Westhuizen was hon­oured by the South African sport in­dus­try for his con­tri­bu­tion to South African sport. His brother, Pi­eter, pushed him in his wheel­chair to the stage

Jan­uary 2017

He started to use an oxy­gen ma­chine af­ter he be­gan hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ties with breath­ing

Fe­bru­ary 6 2017

Van der Westhuizen dies at his home in Jo­han­nes­burg, al­most seven years since he was di­ag­nosed with MND

JACO GROBBELAAR, Graph­ics24

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