A mix collection of inspirational stories gathered from the internet and personal experiences.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cancer no match for Sarah


Though only 14, Sarah Strydom’s defiance of the disease is an inspiration to many others, writes Nomfundo Xulu

IT’S ONE thing to read about cancer and how it has sneaked up on millions, but when you meet a young person who has suffered all manner of threats from the deadly illness and has come out of it with just a limp, a scarred leg, traumatic memories and an attitude big enough to save others like herself , you start to see the disease a bit differently.

“I really cannot really remember much about when I got sick from the chemotherapy, but I know that I missed school for a year because I was in hospital for a very, very long time,” says petite Sarah Strydom, a 14-year-old who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2003 when she was just eight years old.

What started off as a post-birthday party dress up day for the aspiring actress who also dreams of being an astronomer, turned into a dreadful realisation for the Strydom family.

“I got a beautiful costume as a gift for my birthday and the next day, when I put it on, I noticed that there was a lump almost the size of a tennis ball on my leg. I did not know where it had come from and I was sure that I had not bumped myself or anything,” Sarah recalls.

“I showed my mom and because the lump grew big very quickly, a day or so later, she took me to the doctor,” the South African under-15 and under-17 badminton star says.

“Soon after we’d been to the first doctor and had tests done, I remember my mom crying her eyes out and I knew something must be wrong because she would never just start crying like that,” she says, looking at Nicky, her 43-year- old mom who has been to hell and back trying to ensure that her daughter pulled through tests, treatment and school work.

“It was a very difficult time for the whole family. I did not know how to explain to Sarah what was happening to her. I barely even understood the type of cancer she had myself. But she was strong from day one and told me not to worry,” Nicky says.

“I don’t know where she gets the strength from, but Sarah has never let the cancer stand in her way. She even defied doctors who believed that she would never walk again after almost a year of treatment and being confined to bed,” Nicky says with tears in her eyes.

Sarah, who has been in remission for five years, says losing her hair was difficult, but the toughest part was the people she lost.

“I made so many friends along my journey and out of seven close friends from the Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa ward, five have passed away and it hurts.”

She does not think she is in any danger of joining them because of the research she has done on her illness. “I’m in my fifth year of remission, so I know that the chances of the cancer coming back are minimal and I’m not scared. I’m just happy that I can help other people, particularly children who are going through what I went through,” she says.

“When we go for check-ups every four months, Sarah goes to the ward where she spent a year of her life and speaks to children. It’s healing for her and others,” Nicky says.

“Cancer completely changed my life. It has made me such a positive-spirited, motivated and outspoken person,” Sarah says, relaying a story about a lady she once saw in hospital who was on the verge of giving up because of the challenges the cancer posed.

“The lady was crying and saying she had had enough and would rather die than continue to suffer and I asked her if she had children and told her my story. It completely changed her outlook and that made me happy,” Sarah says.

Listening to her and reading her diary, which details the days of her treatment as well as pictures of herself with various famous people, including Danny K and Jeremy Mansfield, who she met during and after the chemotherapy and radiation treatment, it is not difficult to understand why she was featured in the 2005 and the 2009 Moments in Time calender, a project that has been running for seven years and aims to tell the stories of cancer survivors.

“All the people we have featured in Moments in Time have truly inspirational stories to tell and Sarah is one of them. She is so dedicated, talented and ambitious,” says Matthias Haus, Moments in Time project director, at the launch of this year’s calender, which features 13 people from the past six calenders who stood out the most.

“Unfortunately, not everyone we have featured in our calenders is still with us, but they are all heroes for having fought the battle and saved so many other people through their strength and determination,” he says.

For more information on the ‘Moments in Time’ project, visit: www.momentsintime.co.za

To find out more about the Choc foundation, which also runs parent-to-parent workshops, visit: www.choc.org.za

Friday, April 3, 2009

The "Open, Sesame!" of Life

Robert Collier
From The Book of Life

There is a Napoleonic feeling of power that insures success in the knowledge that this invincible "Life Principle" is behind your every act. Knowing that you have working with you a force, which never yet has failed in anything it has undertaken, you can go ahead in the confident knowledge that it will not fail in your case, either. The ingenuity which overcame every obstacle in making you what you are, is not likely to fall short when you have immediate need for it. It is the reserve strength of the athlete, the "second wind" of the runner, the power that, in moments of great stress or excitement, you unconsciously call upon to do the deeds which you ever after look upon as superhuman.

But they are in no wise superhuman. They are merely beyond the capacity of your conscious self. Ally your conscious self with that sleeping giant within you, rouse him daily to the task, and those "superhuman" deeds will become your ordinary, everyday accomplishments.

It matters not whether you are Banker or Lawyer, Business Person or Clerk. Whether you are the custodian of millions, or have to struggle for your daily bread. This "Life Principle" makes no distinction between rich and poor, high and low. The greater your need, the more readily it will respond to your call. Wherever there is an unusual task, wherever there is poverty or hardship or sickness or despair, there is this Servant of your Mind, ready and willing to help, asking only that you call upon him.

And not only is it ready and willing, but it is always able to help. Its ingenuity and resource are without limit. It is Mind. It is Thought. It is the Telepathy that carries messages without the spoken or written word. It is the Sixth Sense that warns you of unseen dangers. No matter how stupendous and complicated, nor how simple your problem may be - the solution of it is somewhere in Mind, in Thought. And since this solution does exist, this Mental Giant can find it for you. It can Know, and it can Do, every right thing. Whatever it is necessary for you to know, whatever it is necessary for you to do, you can know and you can do if you will but seek the help of this Genie-of-your-Mind and work with it in the right way.

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