This is a story of a very brave and passionate young man. André grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. He came 14 years after his brother and 12 years after his sister, his dad passed away when he was 3 years old. He was the apple of his family's eye and in some way had 3 "parents". His older brother and sister were protective of him and helped their mother raise him. André was a quiet child and also a bit shy. He never had a shortage of friends though. He had an attractive, calm and kind nature and well liked by his peers.
After High school André wanted to take a gap year and went to the UK on a working holiday visa. He often spoke of how different things are in London and planned to stay for the full extent of his visa, which was 2 years. His visit was cut tragically short though. He began to experience severe pain in his left shoulder. At first he didn't think too much of it, he went for some physiotherapy in London and made use of over the counter pain pills. The situation soon began to spiral out of control as his shoulder pain began to worsen. Pain pills were his only temporary escape from the pain. His UK doctor suggested only to continue with therapy and prescribed anti inflammatory meds. His pain soon became unbearable and André decided to come home after living in London for only 4 months.
André was fortunate to still be on his mother's medical insurance back in South Africa. He went to see a number of specialists and managed to get the pain under control. He underwent regular physical therapy sessions with a daily shoulder exercises. Two months later his specialist started to worry, there was just no improvement. André was referred to a frozen shoulder specialist and was sent for a sonar. A tumour the size of a golf ball was discovered in his shoulder joint. André went for a biopsy and a week later he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) on the 1st of November, 2002.
The year of 2003 was an hard year for André and his family. He underwent 8 months of chemotherapy, followed by a shoulder surgery in which his tumour along with his humerus was removed. André was a fighter and managed to be an inspiration during that year. The effects of the chemo was incredibly severe and he had to be hospitalized for 3 days after every admission of chemo. The surgery left him permanently disabled as the shoulder nerve along with all his shoulder muscles were removed along with the tumour. Not only has he lost the use of his left arm, but this surgery left his shoulder deformed. Today André is able to use his hand and elbow but has no mobility in his shoulder. On the 26th of September 2003 André had his final session of chemo followed by another biopsy a month later. He was declared 100% cancer free on the 29th of October 2003. No further surgeries to repair or reconstruction his shoulder could be undertaken due to the aggressive nature of the cancer. A 10 year "red period" had begun. Only after a full 10 years would he be completely out of danger.
The André du Preez's Post Cancer Recovery Fund is an initiative to raise money for his reconstructive shoulder surgery. The 10 year remission period has now passed and we want to help this young man who has given so much of himself over this period. After he had beaten cancer, André went ahead to study Social Work at the University of South Africa. It became his passion to be a medical social worker and he was committed to the cause of helping and encouraging other that were diagnosed with terminal diseases. He used to tell the story of how he felt misunderstood during his sickness and how the social worker at the hospital had no idea how to help him. He said had he been in her shoes, he would know exactly what to say, because he understood. This is exactly what he did. Throughout the years André has helped and counselled many individuals and families, often going above and beyond and going to extra mile to support his patients and comforting their families.
André and his family has fallen on some hard times in recent years. André has never been employed full time as a medical social worker. Hospitals in South Africa do not employ social workers like in some other countries, even though there is a recognized need. He is employed part time at an acute physical rehabilitation hospital and gets paid per hour. André has no medical insurance and is unable to pay for the surgery he so desperately needs.
André's shoulder is very unstable and basically hanging next to his body, only attached by some soft tissue. There is a surgery that can help him a great deal. André needs to get a Epoca™ shoulder replacement. It's a two part surgery. First the pin and allograft bone needs to be removed from his shoulder and the prosthesis limb inserted. Then, since he has almost no blood flow in his shoulder, his left pectoral muscle will be relocated. It will be cut beneath and pulled across the replacement limb. Without blood flow there is a great risk of infection. The surgery will result in a stable and more usability of his limb. This will also address his deformity. At present André has no means of paying for this surgery which will cost just over $30,000. This fund aims to reach a goal of $38,000, the other $8000 will go towards post opp therapy, follow up visits, medication and other medical costs during his recovery period. The surgery will take place here in South Africa by the same team of specialists that saved his life 10 years ago.
If this story of André has touched or inspired you, we'd like to ask for your support. This will mean the world to him and his family. He has done so much for others and we'd really like to do this for him. If you feel it in your heart to support this fund, it will be appreciated for a lifetime to come.