‘This has been a spiritual development,’ says a Cape Town father whose son, 3, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma

Luke Bester, 3, from Goodwood was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma in August. Photo: supplied

Luke Bester, 3, from Goodwood was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma in August. Photo: supplied

Published Dec 8, 2022


Cape Town - A Goodwood family who have received the devastating news that their 3-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer said since the news they have grown so much spiritually.

Luke Bester, an inquisitive and witty toddler, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma in August.

Burkitt’s lymphoma is a rare type of cancer, highly aggressive (fast-growing) B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

This disease may affect the jaw, central nervous system, bowel, kidneys, ovaries or other organs.

The Bester family: father Marvin, Luke, his little brother Joshua and mother, Ruth. Picture: supplied

Speaking to IOL, Luke’s father, Marvin Bester, 35, a biology teacher, said the young boy was taken into Vincent Pallotti hospital after he complained about abdominal discomfort.

“He complained about what we thought was tummy cramps. We took him to Vincent Pallotti and initially they did not know what was wrong. Tests were conducted to find out what was causing the discomfort,” Bester said.

An ultrasound was conducted for doctors to have a deeper look.

“In the ultrasound, lesions were found on his liver. A scan was done for better imagery and similar lesions were found on both his kidneys. This all happened in a space of a week.

“A biopsy was conducted where it was discovered that Luke had Burkitt’s lymphoma. The cause of his abdominal discomfort was a tumour on the inside of his intestine,” Bester told IOL.

The father of two said he and his wife, Ruth, 42, were hoping it was not the worst-case scenario.

Ray van der Scholtz, Lee-ann Harris, Melany du Plessis, Henry du Plessis and Delyse Rist took on the Cape Town Marathon in aid of Luke. Picture: supplied

Bester described themselves as a God-fearing couple.

“My wife and I are Christian, God-fearing people. This has definitely been a period of spiritual growth. We didn’t expect it but had to deal with it at that moment.

“Our faith and the support of fellow parishioners, family, colleagues, friends, and total strangers has been amazing. This has been a spiritual development,” Bester said.

The couple also have a one-year-old son, Joshua.

According to Bester, Luke doesn’t understand much about his condition.

Luke is being treated at the Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital’s oncology unit.

“Since Luke’s diagnosis, we have been in and out of hospital. We’ve lost a lot of family time. It has been emotionally draining for us as a family. During the weeks that Luke is receiving treatment, one of us is a single parent to Luke in hospital while the other is a single parent at home to Joshua,” he said.

Luke has a long road to recovery and will need all the support and strength he can get as he undergoes chemotherapy.

Bester praised hospital staff and members of academia at the hospital for their amazing service.

“They put our minds at ease. They are super,” he said.

Bester describes Luke as a typical 3-year-old.

“He is inquisitive and a deep thinker. Josh is the risk taker but Luke thinks about things before he does it. He also has a witty sense of humour and even while in hospital he still finds things funny,” he said.

A BackaBuddy campaign has been started for Luke to assist with funding his treatments and to support the family with living and transport expenses.

In October, runners took on the Cape Town Marathon in aid of Luke and managed to raise R114 000.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support shown by our family, friends and colleagues. The initiative was set up by our dear running friend, Alison Smith. It has been extremely heart-warming to experience the love they have shown.

“This means so much to us. We will forever be in the debt of those who have carried us thus far,” Bester said.

He said a fund-raiser was also hosted for Luke in Paarl. The function was hosted by his brother-in-law and was held with the UTE crew, a car club, that showed off their slick and customised utility vehicles.

Bester said quite a few people donated to the cause. He told IOL the fund-raising target is R150 000 and donations are still welcomed.

If you would like to support Luke, you can donate via the BackaBuddy page at: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/luke-bester or donations can be made via Snapscan: https://pos.snapscan.io/qr/LukeBester