Shakeelah's First Day at UWC
I want to take this opportunity to share with you an email we received from one of our scholars, Shakeelah.
Shakeelah is studying biotechnology at the University of Western Cape. Like all of our students, Shakeelah's life has not been without heartache and challenges.
At a very young age Shakeelah was introduced to a disease that would become a reoccurring part of her story when both her great-grandmother and aunt suffered and died from cancer. A few years later, Shakeelah herself was diagnosed with Chairi Malformation One--a cancer where the brain is too big for the skull, causing pressure on the spinal cord. Doctors explained that without surgery, there would be severe consequences for her life. The family decided to go through with the surgery and the operation was able to save Shakeelah’s life.
In 2008, Shakeelah and her family were shocked when her grandmother suddenly died from breast cancer.
By then, life events had ignited a passion in Shakeelah to pursue a career in Biotechnology. “Her death inspired me to set goals for myself and not waste time.” Shakeelah’s first goal was to work hard so that she could go to college.
In 2010, Shakeelah began feeling abdominal pains that were discovered to be the first stages of pancreatic cancer. Though upset that she was diagnosed during her pursuit of college, Shakeelah found strength in her mother’s courageous example. “She told me that God would never put a burden too much on me that is too heavy to handle.”
Shakeelah is now a freshman at the University of Western Cape and recovering well from her cancer treatments.
I give you this background, so that you can understand the wonderful significance of the email we received:
“…Monday we did a presentation on the different types of cancer. The cancer assigned to my group was testicular cancer. I think doing the project is definitely one of the highlights of my life. The presentation went really well. We were assessed by three lecturers, which was a bit intimidating, but at the end they were all very impressed by our group.
I also decided to do a presentation on the Cancer Association South Africa (CANSA) and the Relay for Life, which I belong to. In my presentation, I spoke about the CANSA and the things they do to help the fight against cancer. My main goal was to raise awareness and encourage my classmates and lecturers to contribute in which ever way possible, but I was not prepared for what was to come... Half of the lecture hall including my lecturer was in tears! That was something I definitely did not expect.
Through my presentation I certainly achieved my goal, as we are starting our own teams and will be participating in the Relay for Life event on 1 October. With the help of my team members, I have managed to get the campus radio and various university organizations on board and they are assisting us with our fund-raiser which will be held on 28 September. We will be having a shave-a-thon and cake sale on campus and all money will be going as a donation towards the CANSA…We are starting out small but we do hope that our small contribution can make a difference.
I can't explain how I am feeling as have never felt this overwhelmed with joy before because I can now help other as I've been helped.. Please pray that our fundraisers will be a success.
Hope you and the team are doing well. Thank you for all that you have done.”
Because of your support, stories like Shakeelah's are possible. Thank you so much.