Dad dies two weeks after Stevenage family’s desperate appeal to help save his life

Billie-Jean and Deon Joubert pictured here with their children Robyn and Bear. Picture: Courtesy of

Billie-Jean and Deon Joubert pictured here with their children Robyn and Bear. Picture: Courtesy of Laura Van De Merwe - Credit: Archant

A devoted dad has died just two weeks after his Stevenage family desperately appealed for help to save his life so he could watch his two children grow up.

Two years ago, 32-year-old Deon Joubert had a lump removed from his neck, and tumours were later discovered in his brain and lungs.

A clinical trial involving immunotherapy cured the brain tumour but had no effect on the cancer in his lungs, which went on to ravage his body.

Deon is brother-in-law to Laura and Pierre Van De Merwe, who live in Stevenage - Pierre is deputy headteacher at the town’s Larwood School.

With Deon living in South Africa with his wife Billie-Jean and children Bear, three, and Robyn, one, there is no free healthcare, so on March 12 Laura appealed in the Comet for donations to help pay for treatment which Deon’s oncologist felt may save his life.

But on March 16 Deon was admitted to hospital in increasing pain and struggling to breathe. A lack of red blood cells meant his body was shutting down, but he improved with blood transfusions and was discharged in three days.

However, scans showed the cancer had grown and spread to Deon’s liver and lymph nodes.

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Billie-Jean said: “Saturday morning he woke up and had a cuddle with the kids as they watched cartoons. In a matter of minutes Deon was in serious pain and struggling to breathe even on oxygen. He said the pain made his chest tight and he could not take a deep enough breath.”

Deon was taken to casualty and admitted to the high dependency unit, where Billie-Jean said “his sense of humour and positive, funny nature remained unchanged”.

Tragically, however, Deon died last Tuesday. Laura said: “It’s with a very heavy heart and deep sadness that I let you all know our Deon passed away in Billie-Jean’s arms, surrounded by his family. He was made comfortable and was peaceful and we know he is with the angels in the sky.

“Deon filled every room with sunshine and every life he touched with happiness. His loud laugh will always be heard and we will never forget him.

“Billie-Jean and their babies will be looked after, we will all make sure of that. RIP, we will see you again on the other side.”

She added: “Thank you to all of you who donated. The remaining money will now be used towards looking after Billie-Jean, Bear and Robyn, and for any outstanding medical bills.”