HollandYou were told at the age of 16 that you had a huge tumor in your head and that you would have surgery on the same day: it happened to Reinhart Van Dam. Now, three months later, the Dutch teenager is almost fully recovered and is taking part in a triathlon in June. Not only because he can do it again, but also to raise money for the Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology. “I’m so grateful they saved me,” the teenager wrote on his father’s LinkedIn page, Roger Van Damme.
Marloes van Wijnen (Best Socialite)
In the summer of 2021, 16-year-old Reinhart increasingly suffers from headaches. The throbbing and burning sensation continues for months. He, his parents, and his doctor face a great mystery. “We had no idea where it came from,” Father Roger says. The GP initially suspected a tension headache, but this diagnosis became unlikely because Reinhart’s pain was getting worse. He also started to have poor vision.”
But when the doctor called the next day and asked if we could come straight to the hospital to get the results, we knew: This is wrong.
The GP decided to send Reinhart to the hospital for an MRI, which is now February. “We will have the results in two days,” Roger continues. “But when the doctor called the next day and asked if we could come straight to the hospital to get the results, we knew this was wrong. We told each other in the car: Prepare for the worst.”
His parents are right: it turns out that the teenager has had a large tumor on his head for months. It must be removed as soon as possible. Reinhart could already go to Maxima Hospital in Utrecht that afternoon. “We flew directly from Nijmegen. In the morning I took Reinhart out of school without a doubt, and in the afternoon he was already on the operating table. “
“I was so shocked,” says Reinhart. “I never expected that I would have a tumor, let alone have surgery on the same day. Before I knew what was happening, the first operation was over.” During this first procedure, doctors placed a drain on Reinhart, allowing the fluid to leave his brain. “For the first time in months, I woke up without an excruciating headache. It was a huge relief.”
For the first time in months I woke up without a terrible headache. This was a huge relief
Two days later, doctors were able to completely remove Reinhart’s tumor in one go. No need after treatment. However, the teen should continue to visit regularly for checkups. “After the second operation, I stayed in the hospital for another week,” says Reinhart. “Then I was allowed to go home again. It went really fast.” His father adds: “It was a week with highs and lows. The days in the hospital were very sad, but at the same time we quickly realized how lucky we were.”
From bunion to triathlon
The following weeks are all about Reinhart’s rehabilitation. But this also happens very quickly. “I went back to school one day a week very quickly, and after a few weeks I was able to do almost everything again.” His father shares an anecdote that shows how quickly his son recovered. Physical therapist Reinhart advised him to walk in a wheelchair so he could sit up when he was tired. But the wheelchair we arranged was always left in the car. I can do it,” said Reinhart at once.
Walking slowly but surely turns into a sport again, and when he told Rogier at home that he and his girlfriend Patricia wanted to take part in a triathlon in Amsterdam, his son was pretty excited too. “When he said he wanted to, I honestly thought: How’s Reinhart?! But his rehab doctor agreed, who am I to say he can’t? At the same time, it’s of course a good sign that he has a great desire to move again.”
Reinhart’s desire doesn’t stop at just participating in the triathlon: the teenager also wants collect money Princess Maxima Centre. “I would like to thank the staff. So I came to ask myself: What can I give back? Well, here is the answer.” And so the father and son created a donation page. To raise money, Roger decided to use his LinkedIn network. “I told Reinhart, write your story short and I’m going to share it – and I don’t expect to reach more than 150,000 people.”
Reinhardt has now more than achieved his modest goal of €500. 7000 euros have already been exploited. “We receive a lot of donations, even from people we don’t know at all,” Rogier says. This includes parents who have lost their children to a tumor. I find it admirable as a father and as a human being that these people support us. And of course not only us, but also the center of Princess Maxima, because Reinhardt does it for them.”
I’m glad I can do something this way for the doctors who saved my life. I wouldn’t be there for the same money
On Sunday, June 19, Reinhart will take on the challenge with his father and girlfriend. During the triathlon, Reinhart promises to carefully listen to his feelings and his body. “But I’m feeling strong again. I’m still working in sports and school, but I can definitely say it’s going well. I’m glad I could do something this way for the doctors who saved my life. I wouldn’t have been there for the same money.”
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