Brain tumour couldn’t stop this achiever

2014-01-21 00:00

SITHABILE Cele’s life-threatening disease forced her to miss a huge chunk of high school.

But it could not stop her from joining the thousands of matriculants in the province who achieved a Bachelor’s Degree pass, enabling her to study at a university this year.

The 2013 matric pupil from Open Air School in Glenwood, was feted at her school yesterday for not only being the top pupil at the school, but also for achieving outstanding results in a special school category in the Umlazi district.

At yesterday’s event, the loudest cheers were reserved for the shy 20-year-old who still can’t believe how she did it.

Cele’s life has never been the same since doctors discovered that she had a cancerous brain tumour in 2008. She had to go under the knife to save her life.

She stayed in hospital for almost the whole year.

“There was a time during my stay in hospital when I was in the Intensive Care Unit where I used to wake up and cry because I wanted to go to school,” she recalled.

She missed the whole of the 2009 academic year due to her illness.

In 2010, she was enrolled at Open Air, a special school, after she struggled to cope at mainstream schools.

She’s now anaemic and can’t walk long distances. She can’t stand crowded places and scorching heat, and gets sick quite often.

Cele also has to go for a brain scan at least twice a year and has lost count of how many days of school she has missed.

But despite this, she surprised herself by always finishing top of her class.

“I amazed myself by becoming number one after my brain surgery. But I always think that if it wasn’t for the surgery I would have achieved even greater marks. It wasn’t easy and everyone at home was scared for me.”

She had her teachers to thank for “answering all our questions” and “leaving no blanks”.

Cele told The Witness that she also studied past question papers.

Cele plans on getting her driver’s licence this year and is planning on studying teaching next year.

She said hopefully she will work at a special school one day.

She thinks that people with disabilities are misunderstood and she would like to see that changing. “I’d like to help other children to face their obstacles and to empower them.” Cele now preaches self-belief — because if she can do it then so can everyone else.

Open Air headmaster Noel Moodley said society usually focuses on those pupils who score As but not much attention is given to those who get Bachelor passes.

The principal thanked the teachers and encouraged the 2014 class to give their best this year.

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