The life and journey of Daniel Rush

Daniel Rush, 20, was diagnosed with cancer six weeks ago.

A Pakuranga couple is facing a third tragedy as their son battles terminal cancer.

Six weeks ago Daniel Rush, 20, was living a normal life at home with his parents, Stephen and Claire.

He was searching for a job to kick-start his goal towards being a computer programmer and website designer after a rough year with the arrival of Covid-19.

He was an avid gamer with a talented singing voice, Claire said, as they could often hear him through their bedroom wall.

He would raid the fridge, go fishing and camping, attend church and enjoy Star Wars.

“He’s very passionate and endlessly kind,” Stephen said. Then the headaches started.

After a visit to his GP and prescribed antibiotics, his headache persisted. He was taken to Middlemore Hospital where they discovered a mass in his brain.

He was sent to Auckland Hospital where they performed a nine-and-a-half-hour surgery on June 23. They found that the mass was an aggressive form of cancer.

“It was devastating,” Stephen said. “It still is. It felt like Armageddon.”

The first tragedy to befall the Rush family came in 2007 with the suicide of Amy, Daniel’s sister and Claire’s daughter from her first marriage. “It hit all of us very hard,” Stephen and Claire said.

A year later, as they were still struggling with grief, their youngest child, Sophie, passed away aged 9 months.

On top of that, Daniel’s grandmother – Stephen’s mother – died three years ago.

“Daniel would ask, ‘Why is it that everyone I love dies?'”

Despite the heartbreaks, Daniel’s kindness and faith has not faltered. “He’s an angel,” Stephen and Claire said.

Throughout his six-week stay in hospital, Daniel’s condition slowly deteriorated.

He was moved into palliative care in a retirement home. The family called more than 80 places before they secured a bed for him.

“It was extremely difficult looking for a facility for him,” Claire said. “There are no palliative care facilities for people between 18 and 50.”

Some of Daniel’s favourite things, Stephen said, were spending time up north on a farm interacting with the animals, visiting the Coromandel with his grandparents and seeing Waterworld as well as searching for gold in the rivers.

“We’ve had 20 good years with him,” Stephen said.

He and Claire also loved Pokemon Go.

“I can’t count the number of times they’ve stopped to say, ‘It’s a site! We have to collect them!” Stephen said. “It’s classic.”

A family friend, Leanne Manaro, set up a Givealittle page to fund some of Daniel’s bucket list activities such as visiting Auckland Zoo and Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium.

The response, Stephen said, has been overwhelming with more than $20,000 donated.

“Everyone has been amazing,” he said. “Thank you to everyone who has donated and to all the family and friends that have supported us and to the Eastgate Community Church for their love and support.”