Van der Weijden a Dutchman, was diagnosed with leukemia (cancer of the blood or bone marrow ) in 2001. And that is when he saw his career ending.
But now he thanks stem cell therapy to give him a new life. He says that it is due to stem cell transplant, he has been able to recover so soon and made a great comeback at the 2003 and 2004 Open Water World Championships where he swam faster than before the disease. It’s because of the therapy that in 2008 World Championships, he won a gold in the 25-km race, a bronze in the 5-km race and ranked fourth in 10-km.
Van der Meijden says that his past disease has taught him well in swimming. “It taught me to think step by step and to be patient. When you are in so much pain and lying in a hospital bed, you aren’t thinking about the next month, but the next hour. This is the same strategy I used here — staying in the pack and waiting for my chance.”
He also thanks the people who has contributed in the cancer research. “Seven-and-a-half years ago I was fighting leukemia. Because of the stem cell transplant I got I had the luck to recover. So everyone who has donated money (to cancer research) in the past I am grateful, for as maybe I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
Thus, stem cell therapy again wins by helping a fighter achieve his greatest ever dream of winning in Olympics.