Pearl Malinga was pregnant with her second child when, during a routine pregnancy check-up, her doctors noticed an abnormality in her blood and decided to conduct further testing.
Strong willed and anchored in her faith, Pearl remained calm in the days leading up to the results, but admits she was in denial. “This couldn’t happen to me. Cancer? No, I’m black and still young, there must be some sort of mistake,” she says.
The results confirmed what Pearl thought would be impossible: She had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). Acute myeloid leukaemia, which starts in the bone marrow, is a condition where the cells don’t mature fully but rather keep building up and can spread quickly to other vital parts of the body like lymph nodes, liver, brain and spinal cord.
Her doctors told her that she needed to begin chemotherapy as soon possible. This was worsened by the news that to increase her chance of survival, her pregnancy needed to be terminated. “I’ve never been so distraught in my life.” she says.
As Pearl came to terms with the reality of her diagnosis, she turned to her unwavering faith for strength. “I found comfort only in God; I could never have made it through without Him.” It was then she decided to summon her courage and fight back with everything to win the battle and honour the baby daughter she had to say good bye to: Lisakhanya, which means beautiful light that shines on forever.
After extensive chemotherapy sessions, Pearl is awaiting a stem cell donor match. “God gave me enormous strength to withstand it all,” she says adding that the key is to keep believing and to never give up, no matter how hard it may seem. “Tomorrow will definitely be a better day.”