Wess Stafford, President Emeritus of Compassion International said “Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.” These words are at the core of what doctor Janita Botha experienced recently after meeting 7 year old Tiano, a terminally ill little cancer patient.  Janita, chairperson of Pink Trees for Pauline Somerset East, met Tiano and accompanied him on a unique journey.  She met an extremely ill child, got to know a brave warrior, discovered a deep sense of community with each person who became part of this journey and eventually said good bye to a dear little friend.  This is the story of Tiano’s bucket list.

Janita met Tiano, accompanied by Hospice representative Chermelle Triegaart, after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the left femur.  Tiano had pain in his knee for a while but nobody suspected that it could be something life threatening.  At times the pain subsided and he played like a healthy little boy.  He was diagnosed by chance when x-rays were taken after his knee was hit by a cricket ball and he experienced excruciating pain.  He was eventually referred to the Red Cross Hospital and underwent chemotherapy and radiation.   Pink Trees for Pauline chairperson Janita wanted to assess his family situation to establish what exactly their practical needs were in order for Pink Trees for Pauline, a registered cancer organisation, to help Tiano and his family.  The aim of Pink Trees for Pauline is to raise funds in order to assist people affected by cancer (and their families) with their right to access to cancer treatment.

When Tiano shared his thoughts with Janita she realised that this was nothing short of a bucket list and that Pink Trees for Pauline Somerset East would have to perform like Tiano’s superhero, Spiderman!  Most of all Tiano wanted his mom with him.  Tiano, his brother and sister lived with his grandparents while his mother, a single parent, was working in Port Elizabeth.  Janita and her committee saw to it that Tiano’s mom came home and she stayed with him until the end.  Pink Trees for Pauline supported the family financially as far as possible.  The family’s favourite meals and even fruit for the neighbouring children were supplied from time to time by Elmar Potgieter, Chermelle Triegaart and Riette Lombard of the Pink Trees for Pauline Somerset East committee.

Tiano clearly had an adventurous spirit as he dreamt of going horseback riding and on a 4 x 4 outing.  He wasn’t strong enough to go horseback riding but Janita and Elmar Potgieter took him, his sister and cousin on a 4 x 4 trip along the Bosberg mountain road.  It was a nerve wrecking trip because of the wet and muddy conditions but the kids enjoyed every moment.  More adventure awaited little Tiano when his dream of becoming a traffic officer was also realised by Janita as Mr Hufkie, a traffic officer, joined Tiano, his siblings and Janita for pizza.  Everybody, the whole town included, had great fun when a car chase ensued and Mr Hufkie eventually pulled Janita off the road with sirens and all!

Because of his condition Tiano was carried around by family members.  He very much wanted a wheel chair and the physiotherapists at Andries Vosloo Hospital saw to it that he received a wheelchair especially made for children.  When asked what kind of pet he would like he answered without hesitation that he wanted a pet bunny and Janita had to search all over Somerset East for one.  Eventually no less than three bunnies were found on the premises of Taylor Funeral services.  Tiano was overjoyed!

Tiano spent his last Sunday at Tiekiedraai on Janita’s family farm with his family.  After fetching them in town they attended DissipelSendingKerk and enjoyed lunch together.  Reverend Henry Ward Beecher said “Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.”  Spending the day with Tiano close to what is near and dear to Janita made these words tangible.

Three days later in the early hours of the morning on 1 July 2015, Tiano passed away in his mother’s arms.

The life of this brave little warrior was celebrated during the weekend of 2 August 2015 when 53 motor cyclists rode in formation in honour of Tiano on the Sunday morning.  They represented the “Wild dog forum for off-road and adventure riding”.  Guests attended a breakfast on the Saturday and more than 60 motor cyclists visited Tiekiedraai over the weekend.  On the Saturday night people from as far as Johannesburg, George, Cape Town, East London, Port-Elizabeth, Uitenhage, Kirkwood, Addo, Grahamstown and Somerset East attended a spitbraai.  Fun, adventure, family…everybody enjoying nature.  Tiano would have loved it!

Tiano R.I.P 1/4/2008-1/7/2015

For more information about the 2015 Pink Trees for Pauline project please visit www.pinktrees.co.za and for the latest news visit the Pink Trees for Pauline Facebook page.  Adri Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen can be contacted on adri@pinktrees.co.za.

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