An avid sportsman, Rohan excelled with bat and ball, winning accolades for soccer, rugby and – most importantly to him – cricket. He was a loving son to his parents, Rod and Kim, a caring brother to his siblings, Kiran and Carys, and a diligent student and loyal friend at Cape Town’s Herzlia and Bishop’s schools.
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 had just gained entry into the prestigious Bishops School for Boys in Cape Town and was made captain of his provincial cricket team in January 2015. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with an extremely rare case of Ewing’s Sarcoma – a highly aggressive cancer. The Bloom family’s worst fears became a reality. 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.
Rohan faced agonizing 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. Still, he fought and endured and when his treatment was completed, he had beaten the last of the cancer cells into submission and walked away from the hospital a hero.
Still frail from his gruelling ordeal, Rohan’s dream came true when he was selected to play cricket for Bishops. It came as no surprise to anyone who knew him, as Rohan had earned the respect of his schoolmates and teachers with his remarkable resolve.
This was to be both the happiest and saddest time of his life when, while on tour with his team in October that year, his pain returned. Tests would later confirm that the cancer had spread throughout his body.
Undeterred, Rohan knew what had to be done. He had already been through so much, had come so far and truly believed that he would beat this again.
It was to be his last – and toughest – fight. On the 15th of April 2016, Rohan finally lost his brave and courageous battle.
Despite the intolerable pain and confusion he endured during 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 and talking about untaken holidays with his family.
When the time came, no one who knew Rohan 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 bear.
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 have to endure the horrors of the disease that took our champion.