Matriculant credits strong support base for success in difficult times
12 March 2021
A battle with a rare cancer has prepared Erin O’Connor for any challenge that may come her way.
The courageous teenager was diagnosed with a rare cancer when she was in Grade 8 at South Peninsula High School. She had to undergo surgery to remove a malignant tumour and she lost a kidney in the process. The excruciating pain she was in at the time is something she would not wish on anyone.
Erin recalled how chemotherapy caused her hair to fall out and saw her confidence levels drop. It was during this time that the support from her family and friends lifted her spirits and helped her on her way to recovery. “If it wasn’t for my parents, I don’t know how I would have coped.”
South Peninsula High School played a huge role in helping her to stay up to date with her schoolwork and not fall behind. When she returned to school in the second term of her Grade 9 year, her classmates were very accommodating, and the teachers were understanding and kind.
One of her teachers described her as an emotionally strong person who made up her mind to beat cancer.
Despite being more at risk during the pandemic, she continued to attend school regularly during her matric year and worked hard to complete her school career.
Erin achieved three distinctions – in Business Studies, Mathematical Literacy and Life Orientation – and has been accepted for a BCom degree at the University of the Western Cape this year.
She said while she was nervous about her tertiary studies and venture into adulthood, she was ready to tackle whatever lies ahead with the same determination and drive that characterised her life up to know.
This can-do attitude echoed the words in the citation for the Special Ministerial Award bestowed on her this week for succeeding despite challenging circumstances. It stated that she demonstrated perseverance and had a bright future ahead of her.
Erin said she was especially grateful for the gift of a laptop that came with the award as it will help her with her online studies.