My name is Ché Streak and this is my cancer story and how it all began…
I was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer when I was only 7 ½ years old. The cancer or tumor is called “Juvenile Fibromatosis“, normally found in young children, usually in their hands and feet. Me, I got it in the chest. It basically acted as poison ivy and wrapped itself around my collar bone. After a long surgery at Karl Bremer Hospital, they removed the cancer along with my collarbone and various muscles from the left side of my chest.
I was then sent to Groote Schuur for three months worth of radiation treatment. I was then told that if nothing had happened after five years, I would be clear.
Five years later, and hating my body (being bullied cause you are different does bad things to a young child’s mind), I found myself in a very special school. “Hope School” for the disabled, and that is where I learned that what has happened to my body is not that bad. I had it easy compared to some of the kids there. I also learned to accept myself, and started to live again.
Then more bad news, at age 14, Hope School took me to Joburg General to see if I could get a back brace to help straighten my spine. Doctors there discovered that the cancer had returned, last time it was the size of a tennis ball, this time, as big as a rugby ball. Result, my left lung had been encased in the tumor.
I had two options.
One – Operate, the doctors try remove the tumor along with my left side of my chest, only problem was that there was a 5% chance of survival.
Two – refuse the operation and take my chances.
My family and I decided to take the chance, and was given three months to live. I was told I would see Christmas, but would never live to see my 15th birthday. In December an organization called “Reach for a Dream foundation” got in touch with my family and me and asked what my greatest dream was, I answered “swimming with dolphins”.
The foundation offered an all expenses paid trip for me and my family to Durban, South Africa to visit the marine life there and to swim with a Dusky Dolphin. While there, another young cancer survivor and Reach for a Dream patient was there to fly in a plane, I was asked to accompany them. As everyone prepared for take off, I was asked to come to the cock-pit to meet the pilots, and then beyond my wildest dreams, I was asked to co-pilot and fly the plane after take off.
The Dream of swimming with a dolphin, plus the chance to fly a plane, was maybe the biggest turning point in my life. Being in the water with “Guppy” a small dusky dolphin, was beyond words to describe, one could almost say it was pure magic. Shortly after been given the three months, I had left Hope school, as I was physically unable to make it day to day, without tiring myself out. I spent almost a year and a half before returning to Hope school and completing my schooling. I matriculated in 1996 at the age of 20.
Since that magical day I have lived my life day to day, taking things as they come and trying to smile and keep a happy heart. And with that positive attitude I have been able to achieve some great things, and meet some wonderful people.
At the moment my greatest achievement, beyond that of surviving day to day, is being able to complete the Cape Argus Cycle tour, not once but six times.