Weʼre raising £2,000 to to help raise some much needed funds for young Trystin, who has chronic myeloid leukemia. Trystin is just 10 years old.
- 20 days to go
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As a parent, your worst nightmare is the thought of losing your child. This is the reality that Brendon and his wife Melanie have been living with for the past seven months. Ten-year-old Trystin, the youngest of Brendon’s three children, is a bright, fun-loving but gentle young man – the apple of his father’s eye. Sports-mad, he’s won numerous awards for rugby and was named his school’s top U9 swimmer in 2017.
When he started to lose weight last August, his parents initially thought he was going through a growth spurt. Then, in September, he complained of a blurry spot in his right eye, and few days later he complained that his left eye was blurry as well. The family’s GP referred Trystin to an ophthalmologist. Trystin’s optical nerves were inflamed, and when the MRI scan came back clear, a full blood work examination was ordered.
With one phone call, Brendon’s whole world fell apart. Trystin’s white blood cell count was 586, when it should be between five 5 and 10. Suspecting leukemia, the ophthalmologist had booked an emergency appointment with a pediatric oncologist in Cape Town.
Melanie and Trystin were flown by Wings and Wishes to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town the following day. He was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia and immediately started treatment. Trystin’s response was remarkable and within a month his astounded doctors confirmed that he was in remission, which they thought would take three months. He was sent home at the end of October, needing only oral chemotherapy tablets and twice-weekly check-ups. Then, in mid-December, his white blood count started climbing again.
A bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap resulted in devastating news. “Our boy had relapsed.” Trystin had built up a resistance to the chemotherapy tablets and needed intense four-hour long intravenous chemotherapy drips, combined with twice weekly injections of chemotherapy into his leg and a twice-weekly spinal injection of chemo directly into his cerebrospinal fluid. By the end of the month-long treatments, he was in remission again.
“Due to him having relapsed, the likelihood of another relapse was high. We needed to act fast,” says Brendon.
Trystin was flown back to Cape Town and underwent an intense week-long consolidated block of chemotherapy treatment while a donor was sought for a bone marrow transplant. His sister Summer (11) offered to be tested, but she was only a half match.
They tried to find a full match through the international donor registry, but time was against them. They were advised to opt for a haploidentical transplant, using an immediate family member. The younger the donor, the higher the potential for success. Summer stepped up.
Due to a vitamin B12 and iron deficiency, Summer had to undergo a seven-day course of vitamin B12 injections in her lower back and take iron supplements. To get her ready for the harvesting of her bone marrow, she had to have special a daily B12 injections into her stomach for three days, two on the fourth day and one in the morning before the harvest. This was to boost her immune system to over-produce the much-needed stem cells and release them into her blood. The harvesting itself was a four-hour process.
“Summer’s bravery and courage to undergo all of this, despite her terrible fear of needles, was mind-blowing. She was happy to be her brother’s superhero and give him the gift of life,” says Brendon.
Throughout this journey, Trystin has kept strong in faith and mind, with a constant smile on his face. “His bravery has been astounding and every time I think about what this kid is going through and tolerating, I shed tears,” adds Brendon.
Trystin’s journey to health continues, and for now he remains in Cape Town with his mother, while Brendon is in Port Elizabeth with his daughters.
Brendon is grateful for the support that Yellow Pages has given him during this challenging time. “I was very concerned about how my superiors would react to the time commitment I had to invest in my boy’s care after I heard Trystin’s diagnosis and what lay ahead,” he says. “After telling my RSM, Robert Greyling, I was assured that Yellow Pages and the entire Exco would offer their support. Several members of our Exco have contacted me to see how things are going and, most importantly, we have been assured that we were kept in their prayers, which we have leant on and appreciated.”
Brendon adds that after being an employee for 13 years, he has been made to feel part of a bigger family that sincerely cares about its members. “For this, I am truly grateful,” he says.
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