By: Lise Van Den Dool
Published: Monday, 17th August 2015
Brandon’s story is not an easy one to tell. Brandon was referred to U-Turn by Living Grace. He started the program with Living Grace 5 months ago of his own accord. At the time he was living in a house with other users. A friend and mentor who completed the Living Grace program in 2012 referred him and helped him understand that he can only ever really be free once he is free of drugs.
Brandon started doing rehab while still living in the house with the other users, but soon realised that the environment in not conducive to change. Through his own changed walk and gaining sobriety, he was able to re-connect with his mother and moved back in with her. In June Living Grace referred Brandon to us to assist with accommodation and transport. Brandon’s mother was retiring to Malmesbury and Brandon needed to find alternative accommodation.
Brandon moved to a shelter that is currently struggling financially. Many of the clients at the shelter still uses and the triggers are many. Yet, throughout, he has been able to continue on his journey of sobriety and change.
Prior to Brandon’s moving into the shelter, his health started deteriorating. It started with a mysterious back-ache and weight loss, but soon became a crippling pain in his stomach and trouble breathing. When I came back from the Vodacom Workshop the social worker at Living Grace phoned to say that she is concerned about Brandon’s deteriorating health, and if we can refer him to a private doctor.
I was shocked when I saw Brandon. He has been in severe pain for at least two weeks, but when he visited the local clinic, they just gave him pain pills and sent him home. I took him to a private doctor that immediately picked up a grossly enlarged liver and referred him to the emergency unit at Grooteschuur, where he was diagnosed with metastasized cancer. Brandon underwent an operation to remove the offensive organ from which the cancer was spreading. On the 15th he started with Chemo Therapy.
When I visited Brandon just after his operation, I was struck by the fact that he faces this challenge in his life (possibly one of the greatest he has ever faced), sober and with Christ. This is not an easy journey, and being a young man of 33 he has every right to be angry and disillusioned. He shared with his friend and mentor that he asked God why him and why now, but that he made peace with it.
During his time at Living Grace Brandon found Christ. He found a reason to live and without knowing what was lying in wait for him he was freed from death’s hold.
Currently Brandon is busy with his first chemo therapy. He is not finding it easy. Apart from the chemo that is wreaking havoc in his body, he struggles to breathe and is in constant pain. Tomorrow Living Grace will be taking his graduation ceremony to him in the hospital. None of us knows what the outcome of his treatment will be, but I do know that he is proud to take this next step of this difficult journey drug free.