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Monday, 09 December 2019

Every cloud has a silver lining

TRIUMPH: Nerene Colbie graduated with two qualifications today despite her domestic challenges. TRIUMPH: Nerene Colbie graduated with two qualifications today despite her domestic challenges.

It is spectacular that Nerene Colbie is finishing her CPUT chapter today with two qualifications as well as completing her radiation therapy on Friday, 13 December.

Nerene was due to complete her BTech degree in Biomedical Technology in 2017. She also started a new job in 2018 and decided that her career path would greatly benefit from the BTech degree in Quality. With the support of her employer, Nerene then registered for the BTech degree in Quality (Part-Time). But her studies took a back seat because of work.

At the beginning of this year, due to both qualifications (BTech: Quality and BTech: Biomedical Technology) being discontinued she was allowed to register for both. “It was quite a ride being employed full time and then having to rush off to class in the evenings,” she says.

To add to this pressure, in April this year, the hardworking part-time student was diagnosed with breast cancer. “After initial shock, I mean how could it be me? I am after all still so young.

“I decided to treat this experience as if I just have a bout of flu so whenever someone heard about my diagnosis or even attempted to raise some kind of alarm or feel a bit of pity I would say to them, ‘Ag man, it’s just like a little bit of flu. I just need some meds and I be fine’.”

Nerene started chemotherapy in May, and immediately thereafter, her hair fell off and her feet started burning and feeling itchy. Her classmates and the lecturers as well as colleagues would see her regularly walking around in her socks or with her feet on ice to try to get some relief.

“They [classmates, lecturers and colleagues] have been amazing in terms of support,” she recalls. “No one even batted an eyelid when they saw me walk with my shoes in my hand, and I really appreciated the sense of normalcy they provided me with.”

Nerene had surgery in September and spent the month of October in full recovery and study mode. When she was too tired to attend classes her lecturers understood and she is very grateful to Mr Michael Saayman, Mrs Des Jaftha and many more for supporting her and “Just putting up with my truant ways”.

She is super excited and grateful to God for carrying her through her academic journey to graduation. “It’s been a very challenging long road, especially, that I had to go to hospital all the time and still attend the classes and being employed at the same time. It was very tough.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce


Provides coverage for the Engineering and the Built Environment and Applied Sciences Faculties.