Joshua Nel was born by emergency C-section in 2004, at 28 weeks gestation, weighing a healthy 1200g . During his 6 week hospitilization, he had one blood transfusion, three hernia operations and suffered jaundice, to name a few of the exhausting hurdles. Fourteen years followed and Josh had to go back to hospital only once with the Roto Virus.
Fast track to 2018 and Joshua is half way through his first year in high school, loving life, and enjoying playing the Cello, progressing with Karate, and filling his afternoons with school activities. In June 2019 he started complaining of occasional headaches. In August he went to the Doctor for a full assessment, including his eyes. She thought perhaps it was sinus related so he took medication. A month later there was no change and he went back for a different set of medication, and talk of setting up an MRI scan, “just to be safe”.
Josh went on to see a Chiropractor, just to make sure that his ongoing headaches were not spinal related. On the second visit, Friday 2nd November 2018, the Practitioner urged to have Josh’s eyes checked one more time. The Optician was thorough. She spent a long time looking at the back of his eyes and referred him to an Opthamologist, who immediately took a scan of Joshua’s optic nerve, which showed extreme swelling. Josh was booked immediately into hospital for an MRI scan and lumbar puncture.
On the 6th of November 2018, the news came that would forever change the road forward for Josh and his family when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The immediate problem Josh was facing, was increased cerebral fluid blocking one of his ventricles, so surgery was performed to divert the fluid internally. This alleviated the pressure behind the Optic Nerves, and Josh proudly showed any interested parties his war scar.
The following week, the Theatre was cleared for the whole day to perform the most complicated brain surgery. As with everything in Josh’s life, his mantra is “Go big or go home”. A procedure which should have taken six hours, turned into a harrowing ten hour surgery. The Pineoblastoma, (a specific kind of tumour), growing since before he was born, is located on the Pineal Gland, which is the size of a rice grain, and is situated almost in the dead centre of the brain itself. Any wrong turn and he could have possibly died, or, remained a vegetable for the rest of his life.
Fast forward to when the ICU Nurses came to the waiting room to announce that the operation was over, and that Joshua would be returning to the ward, and they warned us that he would be ventilated. An hour later Josh took it off. For his own safety, it was then decided to give him the nasal form of ventilation, hooked around the ear, which, of course, was again gone by the following day, as expected.
“As a Mother, to see your innocent child lying in bed, hooked up to machines with wires coming out of his neck, head, arms and every other conceivable place on his already slim body, is enough to make the most hardened person buckle, but I am his Mother, and needed to remain strong and courageous, just like Josh.”
When Josh woke up, he couldn’t move, speak, eat or even remember what transpired five minutes ago. The Pathology report indicated that Joshua’s tumour was a malignant, Grade IV Pineoblastoma. Unfortunately the Surgeon could only remove around 70% of the mass due to the balance calcifying on his brain stem, and recommended that Josh go for a consultation at a Hospital which specialises in Academic Oncology Research.
Once there, he would have to endure 6 weeks of Cranial Radiation and Chemotherapy thereafter. Joshua’s Tumour represents less than 1% of the world’s population, and it is his mother`s belief that they wanted him as a “Case Study”. She began researching, and suddenly, as if like a miracle, an Alternative Healing Centre presented itself to the family. He was not treated as a science experiment, he was “seen” as the fighter he is, a beautiful soul, a positive energy source.
Josh’s story is not about being a victim, it’s about determination and a Mother’s unfailing love for her son. For others to be able to relate & understand the bond, the desperation at times, the daily struggles that Josh is fighting & overcoming like a true Warrior, in a situation that few can, or would, understand, unless they had, or are currently walking, a similar path.
Josh is currently still in alternative treatment and his second MRI on the 9th July has showed another reduction in the residual tumour. He goes to a holistic clinic in Stellenbosch 3 times a week and the traveling costs etc. is overwhelming, especially as medical aid do not recognise alternative healing practices.
Whilst the cost of his hospital stay and two brain operations is largely covered by medical aid, his further & ongoing treatments leave a shortfall of approximately R200 000. Mom is not working and funds for medical treatment are desperately needed.
Joshua endured a year of holistic treatments and returned to school in 2020. He continues to require ongoing maintenance and supplements which are not covered by medical aid. Joshua has achieved incredible results from his perseverance, determination and sacrifice and we would like him to feel inspired to continue with his journey.
James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Update 10 March 2021 from mom, Vanessa: “Josh and I met with the neurosurgeon on Monday 8 March. He advised that since the last 3 MRI’s have shown growth (according to him) that he will not be doing anymore scans as the outcome is inevitable for the malignant brain tumour. We stand on faith as always and are grateful for each day he has
quality of life. Thank you for everyone’s prayers and we ask for this to please continue.”
You can help by supporting our bracelet fundraising initiative for Joshua to help improve his quality of life – all proceeds are donated towards his ongoing medical care and expenses. See details below.
Alternatively, please consider a donation. Any and all donations welcome. REF: Joshua Nel.
Fundraising for Joshua Nel
Perseverance is Key Bracelets
Perseverance is Key Bracelets consist of navy and grey wooden beads, white marble beads and crystal, silver and diamante fillers.
Charm options: Infinity, Cross, Tree of life.
Be Brave Bracelets
Be Brave Bracelets consist of turquoise, magenta and coral wooden beads with crystal silver and diamante fillers.
Charm options: Hope-Awareness ribbon, Faith, Infinity.