Devon was born in Pretoria East hospital on 15 September 2000. Our son had a normal and healthy childhood.... he enjoyed watching SCOOBY DOO with Mom and Dad, loved riding his bike around the neighbourhood, got a thrill out of beating Dad at Playstation and couldn't wait for Sunday braais and his favourite bones ( Spare Ribs ).

Devon was a beautiful child - both his physical appearance but also his inner beauty. When he laughed it was a roar of pure joy which came from the pit of his stomach. His eyes I always perceived as the window to his soul, they sparkled with goodness and radiated life.

In the summer of 2005 we took Devon to hospital after he kept crying that his tummy was sore. The doctor on duty informed us that our son had an inflammed appendix and after a small operation would be right as rain. I remember bursting into tears because my beautiful boy was going to have to go under the knife ..... if we had only known what the next year held in store we would have been ecstatic if that was the sum total of our son's problems.

A week after Devon's appendix removal he was still complaining that his tummy hurt and also more worrying was that he was running a very high temperature. I took Devon to another doctor for a second opinion and after a set of blood tests and a sonar on his abdomen I heard the news that every parent fears the most .... your son has cancer!.

Over the course of the next 14 months Devon underwent a further 4 operations to treat a Wilems tumour in his right kidney. He underwent 31 sessions of chemotherapy ranging from the initial mild weekly sessions consisting of a 15 minute visit as an outpatient to the potent and extremely toxic in hospital sessions where he would lie for 5 days connected to various drips. He also endured 12 sessions of radiation. During this time our lives seemed to consist of hospital stays where chemo or radiation was administered, then home for a while to recuparate, then back to hospital for various drips and injections to boost his immune system, then back home again and then when his blood count had recovered sufficiently to withstand the treatment back again to start the process all over again. In between all this there were long spells where Devon would recover extremely well and we as a family treasured all these good times and sucked the marrow out of each and every day. As a parent of a child fighting insurmountable obstacles you realize that that you can't look to far into what tomorrow holds and therefore cling onto each and every precious moment with your loved one.

In late January of 2006 after a bone marrow extraction we were informed by Devon's oncologist that our child had so much toxicity in his bone marrow from all the chemo that his marrow could no longer rejuvenate itself. It was his opinion that in light of the cancer spreading so rapidly throughout his entire abdomen it was futile subjecting Devon to any further treatment.

We were advised to take Devon home and make the remaining time as comfortable and enjoyable as we could.
For me as a father it was unacceptable that there was nothing left to save Devon's life and we continued with various alternative treatments not recognized and acknowledged by the medical fraternity.
Eventually we had to confront the terrible reality - that no matter how professional the doctors and hospitals are, no matter how many people prayed for Devon, no matter how many tears we shed, Devon was losing his battle with cancer. Devon passed away at 07h35 on the morning of 27 March 2006 at home in my arms.

If there is any good that comes from this terrible disease it is that you have the opportunity to say your good byes.
The conversations between father and son in the sunset of his life will sustain me for the rest of my life. My son taught me more about the joys, trials and tribulations of life than anybody else has. He accomplished more in 5 years than I could ever hope to achieve in the remainder of my journey on earth. I think that the example our son gave of how to live life to it's fullest, even in the face of extreme adversity, is a lesson that every adult can learn from. He turned myself and many other individuals into better people - and that is the miracle.


In the aftermath of Devon's passing I came to realize that there were two distinctly different paths that I could follow - being consumed by bitterness and anger to God and the world, or analyse Devon's life and death in a positive light. I know that we as parents were blessed with the most awesome child, why it had to end so heartbreakingly no priest, oncologist, surgeon or psychologist can answer. What I can say with certainty is that if given the choice between having Devon again for such a short time or alternatively a different child who would outlive us as parents, I would without hesitation pick Devon. It was the best of times and also the worst of times, but the good by far outweighed the bad. And I have a sneaky suspicion that if Devon was asked the same question in heaven, he would say I want to go back to the same mommy and daddy,  even if it was only for a short while.

I decided a few months after Devon's passing that I needed to somehow remain involved in the lives of people who have been affected by children's cancer. I also feel tremendous pride at the grace and dignity that my 5 year old son displayed during his extreme battle. As mentioned earlier Devon's attitude has changed my outlook on life and I feel strongly that his legacy should not be forgotten.
My father had the same sentiments about his grandson's bravery, and also felt compelled to make a difference.
With this as a background we formed the DEVON VERGNE MEMORIAL FUND.


The purpose of our organisation is utilize all funds raised to benefit the parents and the children affected by cancer, and also to provide assistance and support to those involved in the treatment of paediatric cancer.