Reinharts (16) a headache caused by a tumor, and after four months he participated in a triathlon |  Instagram

Reinharts (16) a headache caused by a tumor, and after four months he participated in a triathlon | Instagram

You 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 teen is almost fully recovered as he races a triathlon again in June. Not only because he can do it again, but also to raise money for the Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology. “I am so grateful they saved me,” the teenager wrote on his father’s LinkedIn page, Roger Van Damme.


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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.

Reinhart Van Dam

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.”

The GP decided to send Reinhart to the hospital for an MRI, which is now February. After two days we were getting the results,” continues Rogier. But when the doctor called the next day and asked if we could come straight to the hospital to see the results, we knew: This is wrong. We told each other in the car: Prepare for the worst.

huge tumor

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 traveled 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. ”

Reinhart Van Damme at Maxima Hospital. © private photo


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For the first time in months I woke up without a terrible headache. This was a huge relief

Reinhart Van Dam

“I was so shocked,” says Reinhart. I never expected that I would have a tumor, and certainly wouldn’t have surgery on the same day. Before I realized what was happening, the first operation was over.” During this first procedure, the 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. That 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. It went really fast.” And his father adds: “It was a mixed week between defeats and highs. 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. “My physiotherapist advised Reinhart to practice walking in a wheelchair so that he could sit up when he got tired. But the wheelchair we arranged was always left in the car. I can do that,” Reinhart said right away.

Running is slowly but surely turning 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 also very excited. When he said he wanted it, I honestly thought: How’s Reinhart?! But his rehab doctor agreed, so who am I to say he can’t? At the same time, it is of course a good sign that he has a great desire to move again.”

Reinhart van Dam training for the triathlon with his father.

Reinhart van Dam training for the triathlon with his father. © private photo

Satisfying

But Reinhart’s wish doesn’t stop at the triathlon: the teenager wants too 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’ll share it – 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 used. “We receive a lot of donations, even from people we don’t know at all,” Rogier says. There are also 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.”

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.”


quotes

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

Reinhart Van Dam



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