19 September 2007

Part 1: This is my journey

At the age of 21 Darius found out that he had brain cancer. This is his story.

My name is Darius Coetzee (21). Up until now, my life was all about socialising with friends, and meeting new people.

I also enjoyed playing sport and was very involved in a number of sporting activities. I served on the Student Council for Boland College and was responsible for the Sport Portfolio, including cricket, rugby, netball, hockey, volleyball and many others. I also coached the under-seven rugby team of the Gymnasium Primary School in Paarl. Working with young children is something I really enjoy, and meeting their parents is very encouraging.

One morning in August, while my team was playing a rugby match in Somerset West, I suddenly began to feel unusually cold. It was then that I suspected there was something wrong with me. My chills developed into a headache. But it was not like any ‘normal’ headache. It was a sudden, pounding pain. I felt as if my head was going to explode.

The second time I experienced the same type of headache, was when I served as the referee at a rugby match, in which my team played.

Tuesday, 23 August 2005
My girlfriend invited me to join her on a trip to Gordons Bay. She has family living there. At about 6 pm, on the way to Gordons Bay, while my girlfriend and I were having a great conversation, I began to feel dizzy, my vision became blurred, and I lost consciousness. Later, my girlfriend woke me. I could remember nothing. This was the first time I experienced a blackout, but I blamed it on fatigue.

Later that evening, at about 9 pm, while I was drinking coffee, I experienced another sudden blackout. Once again, I was woken up by my girlfriend, and I assumed I was just extremely tired, and that after a good night’s rest I would feel fine. However, that same evening, I had a third and a fourth blackout. Once again I thought it was fatigue and eventually I went to bed.

24 August 2005
We woke up early in the morning and set out on the road to Paarl. At home, I slept until it was time for me to get ready for college. I arrived at college at 8 am, and must have lost consciousness, as I woke up an hour later in the casualty ward at the hospital. My father and my girlfriend were by my side. I could not remember anything from the recent happenings.

During my time in hospital, I continually experienced blackouts. A number of tests were done during my stay, to see if I could, for example, walk straight, and to see if I was shaking.

Later that morning, I was transferred to Paarl Medi-Clinic and underwent brain X-rays. The only conclusion that the doctors could come to at the time was that I had been experiencing epileptic seizures, and that I should stay in the hospital as a precautionary measure.

(Health24, November 2005)

Read more:
Part 2: This is my journey
Hierdie storie is ook in Afrikaans beskikbaar


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