PC van der Walt (2009)

 In Survivor stories

In 2008, as a relatively fit and healthy 49 year old, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. I was treated by Drs Dave Britain and Jacqui Thomson (Pretoria East Hospital) and their care, knowledge and optimism gave me much consolation.

After anxiously waiting for a suitable donor to be found, I was incredibly fortunate and blessed to receive a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant during 2009. I was in hospital for a month and on sick leave for a further three months convalescing at home. I am fortunate to be able to say that I am currently in remission, working full time and the doctors are extremely happy with my progress.

I was lucky in that my employer and medical aid, Discovery, supported me and granted me special leave without hesitation. What a blessing not to worry about finances at such a time. After the transplant my manager and colleagues allowed me to ease back into work and for about six months I did only “easy” work. The easy work would in normal circumstances have bored me out of my skull, but at that stage it was what I could manage. Being easy, this kept the production up while my colleagues handled the “difficult” remainder of the workload. This type of support was valuable as it allowed me to contribute to the team’s work while still not overextending myself.

Illness, hospitalisation and such put a huge strain on the family. For my family it was no different, but they rose to the occasion and handled all the problems that came their way. My wife and three kids did things they could not or would not have tackled under ‘normal’ circumstances.  I do believe they all emerged as persons with much more resilience and stronger attitudes after the “ordeal”. It is not easy to face a challenge like this and I know that my faith in Jesus Christ was the key aspect motivating me to carry on. I was privileged in that I had a fantastic team of doctors, nurses, colleagues and an extended family to support and pray for me during these extremely difficult times.

However, what I have mentioned above would not have helped if there wasn’t one selfless human being who was willing to give of himself to save my life! I urge you to please support The Sunflower Fund and events like “Bandana Day”. If at all possible register as a donor with the SABMR. You CAN save someone’s life! I am well on my way to my second new life birthday thanks to one person who was willing to help. You can be that person!