Joost van der Westhuizen: I’m on my deathbed
Former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen has admitted that he is on his deathbed as he continues his battle with motor neuron disease (MND).
The 42-year-old was diagnosed with the deadly disease in 2011 and has steadily deteriorated since then.
“I realise every day could be my last,” he told the BBC Sport website in a telephonic interview.
“It’s been a rollercoaster from day one and I know I’m on a deathbed from now on. I’ve had my highs and I have had my lows, but no more. I’m a firm believer that there’s a bigger purpose in my life and I am very positive, very happy,” he said.
Since being diagnosed with MNS, Van der Westhuizen has set up the J9 Foundation, which is a charity that raises awareness about the disease.
Despite his plight, Van der Westhuizen said he’s made peace with his situation.
“I led my life at a hundred miles an hour. I’ve learnt that there are too many things that we take for granted in life and it’s only when you lose them that you realise what it is all about.
“But I know that God is alive in my life and with experience you do learn. I can now talk openly about the mistakes I made because I know my faith won’t give up and it won’t diminish. It’s only when you go through what I am going through that you understand that life is generous.”
Van der Westhuizen scored 38 tries in 89 Tests for the Boks after making his international debut against Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1993. He played his last match in the Green and Gold against New Zealand in Melbourne in November in 2003.