One of them was diagnosed with leukaemia, while the other may be breathing through a hole in her trachea for the rest of her life – but these two Grade 1s aren’t letting anything hold them back, says their mom, Monique Naicker (36).
The Naicker twins’ birth had to be induced at only 28 weeks. The two were being fed via one umbilical cord and doctors were worried one of them wouldn’t make it.
“Trinity and Nikita entered the world screaming. Doctors had warned us they might not cry but then these two arrived with one heck of a noise,” Monique tells YOU.
Trinity had to be kept in Unitas Hospital in Centurion for much longer than her sister because she was struggling to breathe on her own. Monique says there’s a constriction in her airway and when she was three months old, doctors had to make a hole in her trachea so she could breathe. Trinity still wears the device which helps her breathe.
“She’s adapted so well. We sent her to preschool with a nurse in case the device malfunctions,” Monique says.
But nothing holds Trinity back. The family adapted and though Trinity needs monthly hormone injections, everyone in the family has learnt to live with this. Her parents say Trinity is a happy little girl.
When Nikita turned five, tragedy struck. Their healthy little girl was diagnosed with leukaemia.
“She complained of a tummy ache and my mom, who used to be a nurse, told us to take her to the emergency room. They admitted her into hospital and the next day doctors told us she has lymphoblastic leukaemia.” The diagnosis was made in June 2018.
After undergoing chemotherapy, Nikita’s cancer is now in remission.
“This type of cancer has a tendency to hide so we have her tested monthly to screen for cancer. But thankfully, it looks like she’s still cancer-free,” Monique says.
The twins started Grade 1 at Springvale Primary School in Centurion this year, and arrived for their first day hand in hand.
“They’re blissfully happy and are flourishing. Their teacher is also satisfied with their progress.”
The other kids haven’t ever mistreated Trinity, Monique says. “Little kids are sometimes curious about the thing in her neck but then she or I will explain and they carry on. On the first day in Grade 1 the teacher introduced Trinity and told the class she breathes through her throat. The kids got to ask questions, and then everyone carried on with their own thing. Trinity calls it her nose because that’s how she breathes,” Monique says with a chuckle.
She and her husband, Praveen, struggled with their own questions about why their family had to deal with so many challenges. “But then you realise, why not us? We’re just grateful both our children are alive,” she says.
She’s also grateful to all the “angels” who’ve helped them in the past few years, from the organisations helping to finance Nikita’s cancer treatment to the teachers who are helping Trinity fit in. “Our extended family are also a source of strength.”
Asked what the twins’ interests are, Monique chuckles. “Trinity is our little engineer – she wants to know how everything works. She’s inquisitive and questions everything. She’ll break something just so she can put it back together.
“Nikita is the opposite. She’s the mother hen who wants to keep everyone happy. She wants to care for everyone and wants to be a doctor someday.”
While these kinds of challenges might make other couples drift apart, she and Praveen are closer than ever.
“I’m truly grateful our relationship has been strengthened by this. I know it could’ve been very different. We’ve learnt so much and as individuals we’re both stronger now. Plus we have two beautiful, unique daughters who keep us on our toes,” she says.