Sunday, 4 December 2011

Joost van der Westhuizen: Poisoned by the fertilizer he licked from his fingers?

JOOST van der Westhuizen believes he may have contracted an incurable disease by LICKING HIS FINGERS.
The former Springbok scrum-half, who admits he may be confined to a wheelchair “within six months” revealed that fertilizer and line-markings on rugby fields could be responsible for his incurable condition, known as “amyo-trophic lateral sclerosis” or ALS.
Joost, 40, was asked how much exposure to such materials he had suffered when he was treated by US specialist Dr Eric Pioro in Cleveland earlier this year.
Blou Bulls legend Van der Westhuizen, who now has “an 80 percent life expectancy of two to five years” explained: "Dr Pioro told me about an Italian soccer team who have six players suffering from ALS. The link hasn’t been proven yet but the doctor said they are looking at fertiliser and the line markings on sports fields being a contributor to coming down with ALS – he said there is also a high incidence of the same problem among American farmers.
"Okay, I spent some time on the arms as a small boy, but then it struck me: from the age of five I have been playing rugby, handling the ball. And what did I do before feeding a scrum or passing? I licked my fingers.”
According to Dan Retief, the vastly experienced Sunday Times rugby writer , Van der Westhuizen slurred slightly when he added: "I'm lucky I can still walk. My speech is affected. Both my arms are weak and my right leg causes me to limp.
"I was diagnosed with ALS just over a year ago and was told then that I could expect two years of quality life before the bad stuff sets in. Your body just gets weaker, but your mind stays 100%.
"However, I'm lucky in that I can still look after myself although everything I do takes twice as long."
Talking at a fund-raising function last week in Johannesburg, Joost admits he is terrified by the idea of never seeing his children – Kylie, 5, and Jordan, 7, grow up. He says: “I’m tormented by the idea I will not be there for them. At times it has been emotionally terrible for me. And for my parents, especially my dad."
When he discovered he had contracted an incurable disease 13 months ago, he recalls: “I asked myself: ‘Why me?' And the answer came, 'Why not me?' ... it registered with me that if this is the cross I have to bear to help future generations then I'll do it.”
Joost, star of an infamous video tape in February, 2009 involving a woman and drugs which destroyed his marriage to singer Amore Vittone, confesses: "I was a person who got away with a lot of things, I was arrogant and I can see that it was wrong.”
Capped 89 times by the Boks, Joost saw his record of 38 tries broken by Bryan Habana during the World Cup. At the time, Habana said: "It's a great privilege and honor to go past such a great player, and I hope this gives Joost a boost to get through what he's going through. The whole team is very empathetic to what he's going through and we send all our best to him."
Joost confesses: "When I was diagnosed I had to drag myself out of it. Was I going to lie around at home and deteriorate quickly, or was I going to be as busy as possible and surround myself with positive people?
"The amazing brotherhood of rugby was a great help to me. Andre Venter [the former Springbok flanker currently in a wheelchair with the spinal disorder transverse myelitis] contacted me and just said: 'Buddy, together we'll get through this,' and I've received letters of support from all over the world. Now I’m in a good place.”
This story also appeared as the lead on the new South African Sunday paper SCOOP! today, available at all good newsagents and street corners. See

1 comment:

  1. Dr Mike Lowry (a vet and farmer) points out in today's Sunday Times: "the use of an easily obtainable and cheap herbicide called 2,4-D (dimethylamine salt) were the subject of an intensive investigation in the late 1980s in the Tala Valley of KZN, where it caused untold misery to the vegetable farms in the area. Today the subject has perhaps raised its ugley head again in a far more personal capacity."