RIP Joost van der Westhuizen

Last week, I learned the news that South African rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen had passed away after a lengthy battle with MND. I don’t like using the word battle as it implies you have a chance of winning, unfortunately I know this is not the case.

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 24, 2015 shows Former South African Rugby World Cup winner team Captain Francois Pienaar (L) assisting his former teammate flyhalf Joost van der Westhuizen (Front), during a re-enactement of the team photo from the 1995 Rugby World cup victory on June 24, 2015 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
South African rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen, who is battling motor neurone disease, is in a “critical condition” after he was rushed to hospital on February 4, 2017, his foundation said. The 45-year-old former scrum-half, a Springboks captain who won the 1995 World Cup, was diagnosed with the condition in 2011. The incurable disease which damages parts of the nervous system has left van der Westhuizen confined to a wheelchair and he was given two to five years to live when he was diagnosed.

I’ve followed his story reasonably closely, more so since my own diagnosis. I remember when I first saw him and the effect the disease had already had on him, not really understanding the ins and outs of the illness.

His death hit my quite hard. Not from a personal aspect, but it made me think about my own mortality again. Here’s this superstar (of the rugby world at least), relatively wealthy, with a good network of friends and medical professionals and access to the best doctors available and still the disease won. What hope do I have? I take solace in the fact it took more than 6 years to finally take him.

He turned to religion after his diagnosis, it’s not something that has ever occurred to me in fact quite the opposite. I wonder if that will change as my condition worsens?

RIP Joost – You were an inspirational rugby player and your courage throughout your illness gives me hope.

I found this video while surfing – not seen it before. My favourite line…. “I want to be the first to survive MND”

And this video of when Jonah met Joost – really strikes a cord.