Young survivor beats odds

Tremaine van Aardt

A YOUNG girl, who had a 40% chance of surviving the effects of cancer on her body, is set to return to school next term. Nadia du Preez, 5, returned home to Port Elizabeth yesterday after spending more than five months at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital (RCCH) in Cape Town.

The Grade R Sunridge Pre-Primary School pupil was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) at the Greenacres Hospital on December 11. The next day her parents Cheryl and Arno drove her to Cape Town where she was admitted to the hospital and she had been there ever since.

“The last six months have really been trying times for our family. It has brought us a lot closer as a family and brought forth our true friends. Nadia is a fighter. Despite having to face so many life-threatening challenges she is here today with a smile on her face,” Cheryl said. AML is a type of bone marrow cancer for which Nadia had to undergo a bone marrow transplant. She underwent two 10-day chemotherapy sessions ahead of the transplant.

On February 26, Nadia and her seven-year old sister, Sune – the only one compatible to donate – were wheeled into surgery for the transplant. But the family’s woes were far from over.

Next came more chemotherapy, which affected Nadia’s immune system and forced her to spend five weeks in isolation. During this time, she developed veno occlusive disease – a condition brought on by high-dose chemotherapy which obstructs small veins in the liver. “It is only through the grace of God that we are able to travel back to PE as a complete family today [yesterday]. Doctors told us she only had a 40% chance of surviving the various attacks on her body. But she once again defied the odds and made a full recovery from the veno occlusive disease,” Cheryl said.

And as Nadia prepares to return to school next month – she managed to complete her first term curriculum in hospital thanks to her parents who travelled between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town regularly to tutor her – the family are starting to count the costs of medical bills.

To help relieve some of that stress, Sunridge Pre-Primary hosted a golf day at the Port Elizabeth Golf Club yesterday. School principal Rosemary Halgreen-Visser said they had undertaken similar initiatives in the past.

“Last year we did the same thing for a former pupil, Megan Belle, who was suffering from an inoperable brain tumour. We managed to raise R5000 for her. This year we are going bigger in the hope of raising R10000 for the Du Preez family,” she said.

Cheryl said: “I would like to sincerely thank Sunridge Pre-Primary for all their support and understanding. The golf day is just one example of how they have gone above and beyond for us. Words cannot express how grateful we are.”

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