- Johan Fourie graduated from the University of the Western Cape with a degree in social work
- Fourie took a break from his studies to look after his mother who had been diagnosed with cancer
- When he returned to UWC, the 27-year-old himself was diagnosed with the same disease
On Friday, a 27-year-old man graduated Cum Laude with his degree in social work at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).
However, Johan Fourie's story is an exceptional one. According to the varsity's website, Fourie put his studies on hold in 2014 to tend to his mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Fourie, who hails from the small town of Calitzdorp in the Karoo, looked after his mother for two years until her cancer went into remission.
He returned to UWC to resume his studies but then tragedy struck. Briefly.co.za learned Fourie was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia in May of this year.
When he returned to UWC in 2016, the now 27-year-old was determined to succeed. He had to start from the beginning despite having completed two years social work studies at Wits.
Fourie excelled in his studies and was even chosen for an exchange programme at the University of Missouri in the USA.
The UWC website added that Fourie bagged a bursary and won several academic accolades. However, earlier this year he found out he too had cancer.
The top graduate kept his diagnoses a secret and pushed on despite "falling apart".
“I had to accept the reality of my situation. I had to pick myself up and do what I needed to do,” Fourie was quoted.
However, Fourie suffered yet another blow when his medical aid refused to foot a R30 000 medical bill.
“The diagnosis came after a routine visit to the Campus Health Centre. I didn’t even really feel sick. Things happened fast. Two days later I was admitted to the hospital, and within the next two days I had to start chemotherapy, with the diagnosis confirming the malignancy,” he revealed.
Fourie said it had been a difficult period and emotionally, it had taken a toll on him. The young man revealed he felt "resentful" at first and even resisted taking his meds.
However, he reminded himself of his goals and decided to stay committed. Fourie pushed through and not only managed to complete his degree, but do it with flying colours.
He reveals he still gets calls from debt collectors but hoped that he will land a job that helps him settle his medical bills.
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