Wian was born on 4 November 2003, a happy, healthy baby. During June 2014, shortly before his 11th birthday, he started complaining of headaches. As it gradually became worse, we blamed exam stress but on Sunday, the 15th, he could hardly walk. The pain was unbearable and his limbs were incapacitated. He was admitted to hospital and tested for meningitis and tick bite fever. All the results were negative. The following Monday Wian started to lose control of his bladder, could not walk and had double vision. Constant vomiting occurred and his pupils were not reacting to light stimuli. The doctors requested a CT scan of his brain. The next day we were informed that Wian had a 3×3 cm tumor (the size of a golf ball) in the middle of his brain, in the third ventricle. The neurosurgeon, dr. Percy Bezuidenhout, was called in as it was clear that the tumor had to be removed, and as soon as possible!
Dr. Percy explained the complexity of the operation – he had to enter from the back of Wian’s head, between the upper ventricles and the brain stem, a small space of 1×1 cm, to access and remove the tumor with as little as possible, but probable damage to the brain. The prognosis was not favourable. Wian would have to survive an operation of at least 9 hours with an 80% chance of blindness, hearing loss or paralysis, even a chance of speech impairment or short term memory problems after the procedure. A biopsy would also be performed to determine if it is cancerous.
We were shattered! Through my tears I asked if dr. Percy would pray for Wian. His reaction was surprising – He made no secret of the fact that this will definitely be a prayer priority for him. Prayer groups and – chains were created on social media, prayer warriors prayed throughout the night to ask for God’s intervention. Christians, known and unknown to us, visited Wian and some anointed him with oil.
Wian’s absolute childlike faith was apparent – his request: “Proclaim life!”
On Thursday morning, with a strong wind blowing outside, it felt as if God was announcing His presence to me! After many prayers and lots of tears Wian was taken into theatre on Thursday evening. The waiting started… Hourly the doctor sent someone out to keep us informed. We continued praying, helplessly asking God for His Grace.
After 6 hours the messenger (very unprofessionally) announced that the tumor was really bad. According to her it was obviously cancerous. My husband, Wimpie, was unmoved and remained calm when he received this news – he knew where his help was from. My first reaction was anger – she does not know our God! My heart was breaking, I could not breathe! Only 4 months ago I lost my mother to cancer!
Wimpie suggested that I go for a walk. I walked out into the wind, tears dripping from my face as I argued with God. I promised to do anything! In front of me a tree’s branches were blown about, touching the ground on the one side. All of a sudden I realized that nothing else was moving, not even my hair, only this single tree in front of me! I felt God’s peace and then understood – I should not be worried about the cancer but should rather focus on Wian surviving this operation.
At about half past two on Friday morning Wian was pushed out of the theatre, after about nine and a half hours. Eyes wide open, he was laying in the hospital bed, intravenous feed in the neck and arm, catheter fitted, and connected to a ventilator to assist with breathing. We stood by his bed, so grateful that our child was alive! He pointed at the catheter and we understood that it bothered him. Squeezing our hands we realized that he could feel, see, hear, remember and use his muscles!! We had the same reaction as dr. Percy: “Praise God!”
One week later Wian returned to theatre twice to insert a shunt to drain all the access brain fluids into his stomach. Test results showed no cancer in the tumor, it was a “dermoiëd cist”. Like in a fetus, these cells were supposed to develop into nails, hair or teeth but instead was caught up in the brain and developed there. This turned out to be a slow growing, benign tumor, most likely to never return again. The road to recovery was slow and tedious but positive:- Two weeks in ICU, one week in a general ward, then physiotherapy, occupational therapy, visual therapy and some counseling. Elastic band folding, play dough, puzzles, playing with balls, etc. became part of our daily routine… During this time we summarized Wian’s name as follows: W – “Wonderwerk” which is the vernacular for “miracle”; I – In; A – Action; N – Now!
Four months later Wian was back in school for 2 hours per day and after six months he was ready to start 2015 full on. Dr. Percy was happy with his recovery. He pulled his weight at school and could still manage tennis and choir, although no rugby was allowed. At the end of 2015 he was rewarded with a few trophies for his diligence and received the award for the best academic student in his grade. Came January 2016 it was time for his annual check-up. A MR scan had to be done before the visit to the doctor. Due to the fact that we could not get an appointment elsewhere we had the scan done at the hospital. Dr. Percy was glad to see us, we had no complains and life was a song. His expression changed as he looked at the result of the scan and everything suddenly collapsed!
The tumor was back and fast growing this time. The doctor thought it was because of a growth spurt that Wian went through during the last months. The scan clearly indicated pressure building up in the brain and nerves of the eyes. Dr. Percy contacted colleagues and mentors and all agreed – another operation was needed! This time he would enter from the top of the head, between the two hemispheres of the brain, through the corpus callosum to get to the tumor in the third ventricle. He made it clear that this time the approach will have to be far more aggressive, regardless the possible damage caused! The operation was scheduled for a week later…
The news spread and soon prayer groups, friends, family and Christians all over the world were interceding on our behalf! Familiar and unfamiliar people added their prayers to ours. As a family we felt that the return of the tumor was an attack from satan and were greatly encouraged by this prayer support. 1 Peter 5: 6-11 was our constant message of encouragement from God. Emotionally it was a rollercoaster ride – we had to face our son, telling him to be positive about a life threatening operation (which he didn’t feel up to), that would most probably change his life forever. Again we faced the risks of blindness, hearing loss, paralysis and him being crippled for life! We had to demonstrate our trust in God – although we had so many doubts ourselves!
I have a friend who sensitively but purposefully prophesied: “there is nothing, doctors will cut, but find nothing and will then close up.” Again we felt the peace and calm of God covering us.
On the Wednesday afternoon before the operation another MR scan was taken, at another hospital, by appointment. The scan was done 1mm by 1mm (instead of the usual 3mm by 3mm) just to ensure that the cut will be done in exactly the right place and that the doctors were very clear on what to do and expect.
On the 4th of February 2016 Wian went in for the operation and we again got hourly updates. After about 5 hours dr. Percy urgently called us into the theatre! Speechless the staff stood around the theatre – Dr. Percy simply said – “we looked for two hours but found nothing!!!” He called in more specialists to assist, another neurosurgeon, a radiologist, even a pathologist who tested some of the brain cells and found NO abnormalities! THE TUMOR WAS GONE!
We were speechless! We prayed for Wian to survive the operation, for the least possible brain damage and that he would be cancer free. And now, in a theatre filled with specialized equipment and excellent medical staff, God showed us that only the best is good enough for one of His children – A MIRACLE!! We had no doubt!
Right there in the theatre, in front of all the confused staff, we jubilated and praised our Almighty God and Father!
Wian woke up after the operation and could immediately communicate using signals and nods. Within 3 days he was out of ICU, off the ventilator and free from intravenous feeds. A week later he was discharged. In spite of the possible risks involved with an operation of this kind and the possibility of disabilities or problems afterwards, so far we could see NO problems resulting from this procedure. God doesn’t do half miracles!!
It took us some time to realize how many lives God touched by this miracle but it is a privilege to see how God used our 12 year old son, to allow His children to kneel and pray, in thanksgiving!
We believe it is a miracle: W: Wonderwerk (Miracle)
N: Now / Still!!
All honour and glory to God!!
Milandi Badenhorst (Wian’s Mother)
If and when this Testimony has spoken into your heart, please go to the Commitment page.