Kim Fourie is the mom behind the brand Being THAT Mom. Living in Somerset West, she is mom to three daughters and a little boy… Tayla 19, Toni 14, Zoë 7 and Joshua 4. In 2016 her littlest, her only son, Joshua, became very sick. Childhood cancer was the last thing on her mind… She fought to find the truth and that was their truth. Her message is simple. Trust your gut because nobody knows your child as well as you do.
On the 1st of June 2016 our journey with childhood cancer began; although we didn’t know that at the time.
I was fortunate enough to work from home, so I spent the most time with our little boy, Joshua. He was looking for adventures with someone other than me. So we put him into a little school in our suburb; which offers a nurturing and loving environment for their kiddies. We felt it was perfect for Joshua.
On 1 March 2016 Joshua’s new adventures began. He was 2. We saw him grow in leaps and bounds. We were so happy and had peace of mind knowing he was in the right place. But little did we know our joy would be short-lived… Because life as we knew it, as in “normal”, was about to dramatically change.
Towards the beginning of May that same year, Joshua started to have little bruises on his legs. They would last for a day or two and then disappear. During the time that the bruises were on his legs, he wouldn’t want to walk and would constantly cry. It wouldn’t last long because as soon as we gave him Neurofen, the pain would go… And Josh would be back to his normal happy self and our concern would ease.
However, this went on for too long, so we decided to take him to our Doctor. That was the 1st of June 2016. The Doctor checked his vitals, which were all normal. She rotated his hips and joints, as she was concerned that he might have CRMO (Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis). CRMO falls under Juvenile Arthritis. For peace of mind she took bloods from Joshua, just to rule out any nasties we couldn’t see.
Childhood cancer or not?
The results for Joshua’s blood came in and his Doctor became concerned as his cell counts were abnormal. She immediately sent us to Red Cross Oncology. Our fear was now that Josh had Leukemia or some form of childhood cancer. Joshua went through so many tests and bone marrow biopsies, MRI’s and scans… And Leukemia and other childhood cancer were ruled out. The conclusion was that Joshua did have CRMO.
Joshua began treatment for CRMO at the Arthritis clinic. After 7 months we still couldn’t see a change in my son. He was still sore in his legs and the bruises were still there. The fevers made things worse… It would go on for 4 days at a time with a 3 or 4 day break before starting again… even though he was on medication for the disease.
My heart broke at the sight of my little boy, who was once so full of life, drag himself around the floor. The clinics close over the Christmas season, so there was a month off. I wasn’t happy with Joshua’s progress and kept emailing the Doctor… I kept asking him to see Joshua, because there was something more going on.
Back to Childhood Cancer
Come January 2017, Joshua went back to Oncology. The Doctor treating him was sure that Joshua did not have CRMO and this was something more. Returning to Red Cross, Joshua’s eyelids were swollen shut and there was bruising around the eye socket. The doctor we met when we first arrived was completely thrown by how rapidly his condition has worsened…
This is when my mommy instinct kicked in. I told his Doctor that we were not going to leave until someone could tell me what was wrong with my child even if it meant staying there for a month and thankfully she agreed.
Dr Ann changed our lives and our view of Doctors. She fought everyday for our little boy who would cry and get frustrated with the fact that he had to stay in hospital. She would constantly communicate with me and check in with me on any concerns or any changes I had noticed in Joshua.
Her words were, “You are his mommy, you know what his normal behavior is. So you would notice any changes first”. She encouraged me to trust my gut and because I did and didn’t just accept what I was told my son is alive and well today. On the 15th of March 2017 Joshua was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia). His bloods and biopsies came back normal and clear because cancer cells evolve… in his case it was hiding in his eye sockets and not in his bone marrow.
Joshua went through one round of Intense Chemotherapy starting on the 17th of March 2017 and went into remission after that first round. We began discussing a transplant, due to the fact that the cancer had not shown its “normal” symptoms. They could not be certain if or how it would show itself again, so we agreed and the scary process of a donor search began.
Dr Ann instructed us to test Joshua’s siblings first and so we started with our 6 year old daughter Zoe. Now the scary part of this whole search is that your direct sibling is only a 28% possibility of being a match and given that there are only roughly 57.7 million people in South Africa (according to CENSUS 2011, next census due in 2021) between only 75,000 and 100,000 people are registered on the bone marrow registry. If we couldn’t find a match here in South Africa a world wide search would begin starting with Germany as they have the biggest registry in the world. This was now our new reality.
We had Zoe tested and she was a 100% match for Joshua and there was suddenly light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Joshua had two more maintenance rounds of Chemo to carry him to his transplant date. We couldn’t wait for the transplant date. Joshua’s transplant was a huge success with engraphing happening on day 9 post transplant (day 15 of our entire transplant process). Doctors told me that the engraphing procedure can take up to six weeks but I was adamant it was going to work and he would engraph on day 9, and so he did.
We are 1 year 2 months post transplant and Joshua is thriving. GP’s (general practitioners) are not always able to pick up cancer when you meet with them during your consultation as they are not always knowledgeable on what exactly to look for. I met so many moms in the Oncology ward whose GP’s got it wrong not because they don’t care but because they just don’t know. If you want a second opinion then get one even a third, fourth or fifth. Do what you must.
As mommies we doubt ourselves and criticize ourselves and our abilities and choices as moms. We give our all but still it doesn’t feel like its enough. We need to learn to accept our flaws and acknowledge our bests and know that as a mom we will make mistakes and we will feel like we are not enough, but show me a mom that doesn’t feel like that. Show me a mom that doesn’t want to go to war when you mess with her baby.
Learn to trust your gut. Learn to listen to your inner mommy voice and speak LIFE over your children. Speak Life into their futures and never stop praying for them because they will always need you.
Kim Fourie is the mom behind the brand Being THAT Mom. Living in Somerset West and being a mom to three daughters and a little boy, Tayla 19, Toni 14, Zoe 7 and Joshua 4. Kim started the brand Being THAT Mom as she felt the need to encourage moms was something that was desperately needed. Having left the corporate world over 8 years ago to find a healthy balance between career and family has allowed Kim to find her passion and creating the brand Being THAT Mom is exactly that, her passion.