Joost’s battle with paralysis
Joost van der Westhuizen is barely intelligible but extraordinarily expressive. He is physically diminished yet spiritually enriched. On this, rugby union’s showpiece weekend in the northern hemisphere, he redefines notions of heroism and encourages his successors to pause and recalibrate.
The former Springbok captain suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a terminal motor-neurone disease characterised by slurred speech, breathing problems and creeping paralysis. Victims rarely live longer than five years beyond diagnosis.
In the two years since Van der Westhuizen was diagnosed he has revealed the courage enshrined in the definitive moment of a storied career, the tackle which stopped Jonah Lomu in his tracks during Nelson Mandela’s World Cup final in 1995.Joost’s battle with paralysis | Living With Myositis.