Onno Weststrate – Netherlands
The story so far: in my previous blog I wrote that we were well on our way in Romania, with our first official order from a UK company and a very healthy order forecast.
We had some start up issues – in our line of business this is quite normal – as for all of our staff, making steam turbine blades was new territory! However they learned quickly and we had support from our factory in India who had already been making blades for a number of years. Having finally started to produce after such a long period of preparation, I remember that it felt so good – it felt that life could not be better.
We were so blessed with our first orders; we had good people and a great place to work. However, some time later at the end of May 2008, I was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer – Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL). My life was turned upside down. Lord what is this? I had just started a new business and had invested all I had into it, in good faith that I was following Your plan Lord! I had to undergo a number of tests but the message was clear: “Sir, this is not looking too good for you.”
I had to prepare myself and my family for the prognosis that I was expected to only have 5-8 more years to live. This was the best that they could give me for this type of cancer. I shared the news with my family, my friends, my home church and with a group of managers within Turbocam. People started to pray all over the world and I received many encouraging words. My wife Diana told me that if these are the remaining years that we have together, let’s make them the best ones ever. But then during the this same period, she had a verse in her heart from John 11:4. This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” I held on to these words during my period of treatment.
A team of people from Turbocam came over to see me. They encouraged me and prayed with me. Marian from the USA, Savio from India, Sorin from Romania and Rob Taylor from the UK . It was so heart-warming to feel the commitment of these dear brothers and colleagues.
Soon after the final diagnosis I started chemo therapy. It was to be a long series of chemo treatments, including a total of 3 months in isolation in the hospital. My first chemo sessions went quite well and I recovered after each treatment, in 1-2 days. So I continued to work remotely with daily Skype calls (no zoom calls at that time) with our brand new Romanian team whilst also liaising with our new UK customer, who was very understanding of my situation.
The biggest frustration was that I could not go and visit the team in Romania and so I had to trust God that all was in His hands. The 3 months of isolation was tough – especially the last month that included a stem cell transplant – but I managed to walk through it reasonably well. I continued to have daily Skype calls from my hospital room as much as I could and I was determined to get out of there asap! The factory was shipping orders and I followed remotely as much as I was able.
Then, in early March 2009, I was released from hospital and I recovered within a very short period of 6 weeks. And so in April that year, I was finally able to return to Romania, having been away for almost one year.