Beaconhurst pupil embarks on battle against rare bone disease

LOVING ARMS: Matthias Mostert , centre, with his sister, Tessa, left, and his mother, Caitlin, at Groote Schuur Hospital. Picture: SUPPLIED

Last week, Beaconhurst High School pupil Matthias Mostert underwent his first round of chemotherapy for a rare bone cancer, and his family, along with school community is raising funds to assist his medical recovery.

Mostert, an academically driven student and a keen sportsman, first noticed throbbing pain in his leg accompanied by a skin rash, in June following an U16 rugby tour during the school holidays.

Medical tests and scans confirmed the diagnosis as osteosarcoma, a rare bone disease that begins in the cells that form bones.

It is most often found in the long bones such as the legs and arms — but it can start in any bone. The exact cause is not known, but it is believed to be due to DNA mutations inside bone cells.

Mostert underwent his first bout of chemo on September 7 in Cape Town at Groote Schuur Hospital, however the road to recovery will be a long one with possible radiation and inevitable surgery to follow.

The specialists might be able to replace the bone segment with the worst-case scenario being amputation. However, modern reconstructive surgery will enable him to lead a full and normal life after recovery.

Mostert’s final round of chemo, for now, was scheduled for Tuesday September 12, so that doctors could conduct an MRI scan on his leg to determine how the tumour has responded to the chemo. The outcome was not known at the time of going to press.

This is the family’s second battle with osteosarcoma after Matthias’ father, Thinus, passed away in 2015 from the same disease when Matthias was eight.

His uncle Carl-Hein, said though Thinus’s passing left a painful wound in the family, it enabled Matthias to grow into a stoic and mature youngster, able to withstand overwhelming circumstances.

This has helped him face his diagnosis with pragmatism and optimism even insisting on continuing with his schoolwork between taxing chemo sessions.

His mother, Caitlin, said that he had set his mind on returning to full health and he was eager to go back to school.

She said: “Matthias has been incredibly brave, strong, determined and positive.

“He is amazing in that he has been more concerned about how his loved ones are coping than worrying about himself.

“He is so grateful for and blown away by all the love and support from friends and family in East London and the wider community as well as his school friends and the staff at Beaconhurst who have rallied around him.

“He said he can feel he is surrounded by a lot of positivity.”

Beaconhurst High vice-principal Lynette van Greunen said that Matthias was well loved and that immediately after hearing about his diagnosis, pupils sprang into action organising fundraisers, sponsoring ribbons and selling cupcakes and donuts to assist his family with covering the costs of his treatment.

The pupils sent motivational videos to him and decorated his seat in English class to mark their support and hope for his speedy return.

Van Greunen said: “Many were very teary when they heard the news.

“We have used this terrible experience of Matthias to show our pupils how to stand together, show empathy, to show support to someone in need and create an awareness of cancer.

“We have placed different colour ribbons depicting various cancers on our school fence and even decorated some of our trees on our school premises.

“Our message to Matthias is that we would like to assure him that all pupils and teachers are keeping him and his family in our thoughts and prayers. He is truly missed at school.”

Forced to cover the costs of medical treatment without assistance from medical aids, the family has started a GoFundMe page for Matthias which has raised around half the R592,329 needed to fund his recovery.

To assist the Mostert’s in their mission please visit Beaconhurst School, East London Facebook page for a link to the GoFundMe page as every little bit helps.


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