Rohan Bloom was a champion.
From the day he could walk he faced life’s challenges head-on, always wanting to be the best at everything he did.
An avid sportsman, Rohan excelled with bat and ball, winning accolades for soccer, rugby, and – most importantly to him – cricket. He was a diligent student at Cape Town’s Herzlia Primary School, and a loving son to his parents Rodney and Kim, and siblings Kieran and Carys.
No matter how big the task, or how lost the cause, Rohan refused to believe he was beaten. Which is why when he first felt a sharp pain in his rib after a bruising cricket game in July 2014, he dismissed it with his usual swagger. Six months later, when the pain was still there, Rohan and his family accepted that something more had to be done.
Rohan was diagnosed with an extremely rare case of Ewing’s Sarcoma in January 2015, soon after he was made captain of his provincial cricket team and gained entry into the prestigious Bishops School for Boys in Cape Town. The immediate prognosis was three months of intensive chemotherapy, the removal of the tumour and the affected rib, and months of grueling radiation treatment.
During the surgery, it was discovered that Rohan was born with only one kidney, and the kidney was so close to the infected area that it was too dangerous to radiate. The setback only emboldened the family, who decided to have Rohan’s kidney moved to his pelvis so the necessary treatment could continue.
"It was the start of a painful journey that would ultimately bring them much suffering, but also bring their close-knit community closer together than ever before."
Although the kidney transplant was successful, Rohan faced the indignity of living with a catheter for more than a week before the kidney started to function properly, and had to wait a further six weeks before radiation therapy could begin. Still, he batted on, every single day for the next six weeks, his already frail and needle-riddled body becoming weaker and weaker by the day.
He faced agonising bouts of nausea and pain, mood swings and appetite loss, and even though his resolve was unbroken, the toll on his family and closest friends began to show. But still he fought, and endured, and when the treatment was done, he had beaten the last of the cancer cells into submission and walked away from the hospital a hero.
Soon after, still frail from his ordeal, Rohan was picked for his new school’s cricket team. It came as no surprise to anyone; Rohan had already shown his mettle to all who knew him, and earned the respect of his schoolmates and teachers with his remarkable resolve.
It was both the happiest and saddest time of his life when, while on tour with his team in October that year, the pain returned. Tests would later show the cancer had spread throughout his body.
Undeterred, Rohan knew what had to be done. He has already been through so much, had come so far, but as always was ready when the call came.
"It was to be his last – and toughest – fight. On the 15th of April 2016, Rohan finally lost."
Despite the intolerable pain and confusion of his last months and days, he never gave in, never thought for a minute of a future without the life he so desperately looked forward to. Only weeks before the end he was sat up in bed, planning his college classes with his best friend, talking about untaken holidays with his family.
When the time came, no-one who knew him believed he was gone. No-one had ever seen Rohan lose at anything, and even when those closest to him saw that the game was up, it was never said aloud.
Days later, when Rohan was laid to rest in the shadow of Cape Town’s famous mountain, thousands came to pay their last respects. Those who loved him, those who knew him, and those who – through the whispers of others – heard about a brave young boy made to suffer more than most men could bare.
Rohan left us the way he came to us: fighting. Today, his fight lives on in the Rohan Bloom Foundation, so that no child, and no family, should ever endure the horrors of the disease that took away our champion.