New Beginnings: How Cheri Pienaar survived cancer

Cheri Pienaar tells the story of her fight against cancer and a surprise gift of motherhood.

Pienaar grew up in Tableview in Cape Town. She was diagnosed with Leukaemia while doing grade 11 (then std 9).

She noticed bruises all over her body and she was rushed to Tygerberg Hospital for tests and a bone marrow biopsy.

It was at the end of the term and I thought I was tired. I had been studying and I just thought I needed a break. I didn’t think much of it at all

Cheri Pienaar, cancer survivor

Listen to the full conversation on the Pippa Hudson Show:

They told me I had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and it was very rare for a 17 year old to have this leukaemia. They weren’t quite sure how they were going to move forward. They had to do research very quickly and they started immediately with chemotherapy.

Cheri Pienaar, cancer survivor

The chemotherapy I had was quite aggressive, my hair fell off, my nails fell off … it wasn’t a pleasant experience

Cheri Pienaar, cancer survivor

According to Pienaar, her parents joined the ‘I Can Cope' support group at the Cancer Association near Groote Schuur Hospital, which helps families cope with family members who are fighting cancer.

25 years later Cheri managed to finish her schooling, survived the cancer, got married and fell pregnant. She says doctors described it as a miracle.

Because of all the radiation she was exposed to, doctors had said it was impossible for her to be pregnant and that she would be infertile, but she proved them wrong.


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