Ryan played soccer at SC Duffel. “At the end of the long vacation, he had back pain during a football match. We went to the doctor,” says his mother, Deborah. Back pain is not very common in young people. He was given painkillers and advised to keep moving. “A few days later, Ren developed a very sore throat, and he wasn’t feeling well at all.”
Together they went to the doctor on duty at the out-of-hours GP station in Lier. Symptoms indicated a severe sore throat. Ryan prescribed anti-inflammatories. “But my child was getting sick and sick. My son was also very tired. That’s what worried me,” says Deborah.
Because his condition did not improve, the family again went to the doctor. “It couldn’t have been glandular fever, because he had antibodies against that. On top of his sore throat, he developed a high fever and a severe headache. It’s not normal for me anymore.”
bad blood count
On that day, sometime in the middle of September, the GP decided to draw blood. While waiting for the results, the doctor prescribed antibiotics, but these were ultimately ignored. “That Saturday morning, our GP called me very early and told me that Ryan’s blood values weren’t good at all.”
At that time, the doctor had already arranged an appointment for Rain at the Antwerp University Hospital (UZA). The boy’s health condition turned out to be very serious. As soon as he and his mom got to the emergency room, they immediately went to the examination room. “Rayne was in a bad mood at first because they had to draw blood again. A lot of blood was taken, really,” says Deborah.
Just over an hour later, the results of his blood values came in. The emergency doctor was accompanied by a colleague who introduced himself as a pediatric oncologist. The world has stopped. “At that moment I started crying. I literally broke down. All I heard was leukemia. I can’t remember anything about the rest of the conversation,” says his mother.
A series of investigations followed. It turns out that Rayne had a rare form of leukemia. “Ten children in Belgium receive this diagnosis every year,” says Deborah. Because of the rare nature of the cancer, her son was taken by ambulance to the UZ in Ghent.
When they got there, they went to the isolation room. Another blood test followed. “His blood values were so bad that the doctors started the first course of chemo after a few hours,” says his mother. Admission to the intensive care unit was not necessary. “Treatment for Rayne’s cancer, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), is much shorter than for the other form, but it is sometimes aggressive.”
The teen received chemotherapy for twelve days in a row. “Sometimes two or three kinds in one day. That’s not what you expect as a 13-year-old and we’re not quite there yet.” About two and a half months later, Ryan started his third treatment. Furthermore, he could only recover if he underwent a bone marrow transplant. If he didn’t get one, he wouldn’t be able to recover. “The Red Cross is looking for a suitable donor,” explains Deborah.
For Rin, leukemia is not just a physical ordeal, it is also an emotional one. He lives in complete isolation. This hits hard. He’s only seen his best friend twice since the diagnosis: once behind glass, last week from a distance,” says his mother.
For Deborah, a teacher in Mechelen who is single, it is also difficult. She could remain absent until the end of this year without financial consequences. Then a committee decides how to proceed. “Depending on what that committee decides, I can back out on 50% of my salary. To be honest, with the prices going up, it just adds to my stress. That’s why I’m so grateful to Marika,” says Deborah.
Marika Rogemann of Sint-Katelijne-Waver herself lost her son-in-law to cancer. Since then she has been organizing Fuck Cancer concerts to support affected families. Together with friends Annelies De Keyser, Jill Labar and Kimberly Perree, she is now organizing just such a party in Bonheiden on Saturday, December 3rd. “It’s the least we can do. Deborah and her son ended up having a nightmare from one day to the next,” says Marika.
Tickets for the theme party black and gold and DJ Funktastix at a cost of 12.5 euros. The party at Bonheiden’s Sint-Ludwina Hall begins at 8 p.m. Even if you can’t attend, support is most welcome. “People who want to contribute can send us an email at email@example.com,” says Marika.