Miché Gertse aka Iron Girl, is a Little Fighters Cancer Trust Teen Fighter and Ambassador who has just, despite battling through overwhelming odds, attained TWO DISTINCTIONS and a university exemption.
Although 17-year-old Miché , a matriculant from Bernadino Heights High, may not have been the Western Cape’s best matriculant, she was awarded the Ministerial Award for Excellence last week by Premier Helen Zille at her official residence in Gardens‚ Leeuwenhof, together with 60 other members of the class of 2016 honoured by the provincial government.
Miché’s story is one of overcoming overwhelming odds and extreme courage in the face of devastating Childhood Cancer.
Miché was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in 2007 at the age of 10, whereafter she had a tumour removed from her right leg, and her femur was replaced with a metal prosthesis.
This was not the end of Miché’s trial and tribulations though;
- After chemotherapy treatment at Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, Miché spent nine months at home in 2008;
- Miché suffered damage to her kidney before passing grade 6; she was diagnosed with lung cancer and had part of her right lung removed;
- In 2012, while in Grade 10, Miché suffered another relapse when the aggressive cancer spread to her right forearm bone and rib case. This forced doctors to remove her right lung‚ three ribs and her right forearm bone, which was also replaced with a metal prosthesis;
- Despite all of the challenges she was facing‚ Miché returned to school and passed Grade 10 in 2014;
- In 2015 she needed treatment to her right cheekbone;
2016, Miché’s final year of schooling, was not without its problems – she suffered a blood clot in her right leg and severe pain in her right jaw that doctors at first feared was a recurrence of the cancer, but which fortunately turned out to be inflammation of the bone in three different places in her jaw, most probably due to all the surgeries done in the past.
Throughout the past 9 years, Miché has undergone 21 operations, suffered through various bouts of chemotherapy and hospital stays, and could not go to school or socialise with her friends for various periods, yet she persevered, even while in intense pain.
A post by Miché on her Community Facebook Page on 7 July 2016 best describes her courage:
There’s a difference between being sick and feeling sick, I guess its stated that I’m sick, but I don’t feel nor see myself that way. I will dance all night without the thought of being sick. I’m guessing everyone is assuming the cancer is back but it’s not official, it’s actually complicated.
A month ago I was diagnosed with a DVT (blood clot in my right leg) and I’m on treatment for the next 4 months by which I drink a tablet every day and go draw blood every once a week. While being in hospital they did scans but weren’t to sure, the cancer hasn’t been diagnosed again yet, therefore I believe I’m not sick.
Last Monday my mouth started paining and on Saturday my mouth went completely numb. I went to the doctor but they couldn’t help me; I went to the emergency centre at the hospital but they also were too afraid to help me because of my past; I went to the dentist and they also couldn’t help me without the permission of my oncologist.
I went to my oncologist and she said I have to come back on Thursday, so I’m quite lost in the middle right now, and I won’t lie it’s quite painful.
Everything I go through is painful not just physically but emotionally too, so I’m just saying the cancer was not declared back but there are other things I’m facing, so now I’m walking around with a swollen mouth lol and worrying how I’ll feel on my matric ball day, will I make it, but everything is possible through the work of God.
Sometimes the question is why do I have to go through all of this then I realise the Lord knows what his doing and has a purpose for everything, I will rather carry all this pain knowing I’ll survive than giving the pain to my loved ones whom I know won’t be strong enough to carry the pain, but I’ve made it for 7 years now 😊 there are things that keep me on earth, 1. God, 2. My Family, 3. My Future.
Thanks for everyone’s prayers and messages I appreciate it.
This was just to inform you all about what’s actually happening in my life.
Pain demands to be felt 😃
Miché is certainly our hero, and her zest for life and determination to succeed serve as an inspiration to others:
“There is more to life than just quitting. I have this vision for my life‚ I can’t just give up now. It was overwhelming as I had a lot of obstacles, and I was always looked at because I looked different and walked differently, but I was just thinking about my future,” she said.
“I want to get married and work and I thought if I give up now, then all the work I had already put in would have been for nothing.”
Miché has been accepted at the University of the Western Cape where she will study social work.
“I have a passion for caring for people … I also want to care for children‚ because when I was in hospital there were children whose parents could not be there. So‚ my plan is to give back to the children‚” she said.
It gives Team LFCT great joy to congratulate Miché on her fantastic achievement and to wish her everything of the best for her future studies –
Miché, with your heart, grit and determination, we know that you can become anything and do anything you set your mind to!