It will be Tim Van Berlo’s love for his family and rugby that drives him through the next phase of his life.
The Melton Rugby Union Club stalwart is preparing to have his lower leg amputated on Friday (April 13) and he told Star Weekly he was “actually excited” for what was to come.
Van Berlo broke his ankle during a match when he was 18 years old, almost 17 years ago, but the injury never quite healed properly.
“I’ve been involved in Melton Rugby since I was 13,” he said.
“The original break was in 2001.
“It was OK for about 12 years and during that time I was still playing, on and off.
“But there was so much damage left over from the first break.”
He discovered years later that he had fractured the same leg again while working in Western Australia and, in a cruel turn of events, he broke it severely once more.
“I was home eight hours from the hospital after one of my surgeries and I went to open a door … my leg just collapsed and my tibia snapped in half,” Van Berlo said.
“It was the most painful experience I’ve even been through.
“I’ve broken bones before, dislocated shoulders and fingers through rugby … but nothing compared to the pain of that.”
Van Berlo has since had 13 surgeries and has used crutches to get around for the past three years. He also battled a serious infection due to his leg brace.
He said amputation was a last resort for him and his medical team.
“I’m excited about it,” he said.
“It’s going to be a new start to my life.
“The pain and swelling has persisted all these years and it’s absolutely taken a toll on my life and my family.
“I haven’t been able to work since 2015 and I was in hospital for five months last year.
“My son plays rugby for Melton under-10s and all he wants is for me to be able to go to the park and kick a ball around with him. I haven’t been able to do that for years.
“My future goal is to play on the same senior team as my son.”
The Melton sporting community has rallied around Van Berlo and his family with an online crowdfunding campaign raising more than $4000 in nine days.