It?s utterly vile; as putrid a concoction as I?ve ever ingested. A visibly green satay hot dog on a ferry from Singapore to Malaysia offers a little competition (they take the ?dog? part very literally in that part of the world), as does my varsity housemate AJ?s signature fish and chips (an inedible black smudge), but this is a clear winner. Brewed with glee, and handed over with a delighted smirk, Rob Louw?s homemade tea is quite simply revolting: unprocessed green tea, masses of turmeric, and a violent dose of black pepper, boiled up to a steaming potion that years ago would have been made in a cauldron, and had you burnt at a stake for producing.
But somehow, I choked down the entire cup, for while it?s little more than compost as hot beverage, Rob?s tea is apparently as good a natural deterrent to cancer as there is. And for a man who really should be dead at the moment, it?s not hard to appreciate the religious zeal with which he?s taken to a brand new diet, with his sickening tea the kick-start to every day. He?s talked the rest of his family into it as well ? Roxy concedes it?s appalling, but reckons she?s a new woman after a week of her dad?s fetid blend ? and when a man who?s beaten cancer recommends a course of action, you listen.
If you missed the news at the end of last year, Rob was diagnosed with aggressively malevolent skin cancer, and given three months to live. Outwardly healthy, and spending his days surfing with Roxy and mountain biking around the Cape, the former Springbok was riddled with the cruellest of killers, and the prognosis looked extremely bleak. But one emergency flight to the United States later courtesy of Johann Rupert?s private jet, groundbreaking work with some of the world?s leading cancer specialists, and an incredible display of physical and mental resolve (Rob?s doctors couldn?t believe the strength of the man), and the tearaway flanker with the wicked grin is back in South Africa, five kilograms lighter, restored to full health, and charging into the broader battle against the curse that is cancer.
During his treatment, Rob had a constant stream of support: text message from Lance Armstrong, ?phone calls from Murray Mexted, himself a cancer survivor, and Kelly Slater (the Louw family are mad about surfing; Johann offered Rob a place at the Dunhill Links in Scotland later this year with Kelly, who?s a fanatical golfer, if he recovered), meeting with Sean Connery, and message after message from friends and supporters back home. That massed wave of encouragement kept his spirits going as he danced with death; now that he?s home, repaying that support has begun, and as well as speaking extensively about dealing with cancer and how to best avoid it, there are several initiatives on the horizon that will take the fight to cancer more aggressively.
And unfortunately, that means Rob will doing his best to shove as much green tea, turmeric and black pepper down our throats as possible, along with various other treats from his apothecary?s kitchen (green coconut juice from the Bahamas is apparently another great defence against cancer, which means it?s certain to taste truly horrible). He?s not quite wearing hemp sandals and building a mini Stonehenge in his back garden, but Rob?s a reborn man after coming back from the brink, and it?s not hard to understand why.
If his dietary advice catches on, it certainly won?t be for its inherent culinary appeal; instead, it will be the inspiration taken from a man who?s fought a tough and draining battle, and emerged fit and healthy when the odds were heavily stacked against him simply being alive. The text messages he sent back from America were never sad or self-pitying (most of them were unprintable; friends of Rob will know what the ?diamond cutter? refers to), the smile never left his face, and the determination not to let cancer get the better of him didn?t waver. He might have had incredible support on many fronts, but along with the support he had, it was Rob Louw?s courage that got him through, and that, more than anything he did on a rugby field, is reason to admire the man. Even if he does make you drink his ghastly new elixir every time you see him.
Busy week of golf in the build-up to the Castle Cape Town Tens ? Thursday sees the Stormers at De Zalze for the Chris Burger Petro Jackson fundraiser (Chester Williams and I partnering up; definitely heavy favourites), and then Friday morning the South African Rugby Legends join Rob Louw in a cancer fundraiser at Rondebosch (Brian McMillan, Gary Gold, Ryan O?Connor and myself set for more prizes). Two excellent causes, with Rob in particular set to spearhead plenty of cancer-related work; drop me a mail if you?re interested in more information on what he has planned, and I?ll keep you posted.
Standard Bank?s Pro20 cricket competition is on the horizon, which means the countdown is on ?til we get to see swimsuit models Kate Johns, Nazley Gabier, Kass Naidoo, and the rest of the cricket cheerleaders in hot pants and tank tops. For now, Kate is just back from skippering the Standard Bank cheerleader team in Angola watching the Africa Cup of Nations, and breaking hearts across Luanda, by all accounts. Life in Angola takes a little adjusting to, apparently; look out for an update from Kate next week on her Angolan adventures later this week. Probably not a dream honeymoon location...
Plenty of mail from last Tuesday?s column about Mickey and Graeme?s divorce (Mickey gets R4.5-million, and AB, Wayne and JP; Graeme is apparently adopting three Malawian kids to compensate). Not everyone appreciated the piece, though; cue one very irate Muriel Darke. ?What a pathetic attempt at humour. It would have been nice to have some facts and when you couldn't find any you resorted to this banal travesty. Maybe now you could do some investigative journalism and find out what really happened. We cricket fans are not stupid. We realise there must have been something serious going on for Mickey to have resigned but you have supplied us with no information. Next time rather just keep quiet. Muriel.? One big group hug to Muriel and her cats from all of us at iafrica...