WHEN Gaynor and Guido van den Berg fell in love on holiday in sunny Malia, Crete, they had no idea what life would throw at them.
Almost 25 years later they are still happily married but have together fought two brain tumours and a brain haemorrhage.
Mrs van den Berg said: “We’re very happy but we have definitely had our ups and downs with our brains over the years. We call ourselves the house of broken brains.“ They had only known each other for three days in Malia when they got engaged in 1988 and married the next year.
Mr van den Berg, who is from the Netherlands, moved to Breightmet and they had two children, Rory and Danya.
But in 1996 he was diagnosed with his first brain tumour but made a full recovery after the tumour was surgically removed.
But 15 years later, in January, 2011, doctors discovered it had grown back, this time to the size of hen’s egg, and Mr van den Berg faced another three operations to remove it plus six weeks of radiotherapy.
Complications during surgery meant his condition took a turn for the worst and he nearly died.
When Mr van den Berg did come round after having an embolization to treat the bleed, the only word he could say was the name of the couple’s much-loved Jack Russell, Borris.
Mrs van den Berg said: “Guido was seriously affected when the surgery went wrong and he nearly died. It has been a very slow process for him to recover and I don’t think he will ever be the same. He feels travel sick most of the time and is very easily tired and gets exhausted.”
And the couple’s terrible luck was not over for last August, Mrs van den Berg suffered a brain haemorrhage. It took her three months to recover but she says her family could not have coped without their little dog Borris.
Mrs van den Berg added: “Whatever happens, we have to get up and walk him.
“But we’re all very happy and even with everything we have been through, we still laugh and laugh.”
And the family are now fundraising for Brain Tumour UK to help raise awareness because they say it is so under-funded.
Mr van den Berg said: “Unfortunately, I cannot do something exciting for charity, such as a marathon, a triathlon, climb a mountain or sky dive, so I have chosen something that will bring a smile on everyone’s face — a back wax.”
Mr van den Berg will have his back waxed for charity on Friday, February 15, at Lasting Beauty in Harwood.
To sponsor him, go to, justgiving.com/Guido-van-den-Berg.