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Survivor Stories

Cycling to recovery

Alan MacDonald came from Scotland to South Africa in 1969 as  a young man, and graduated from the University of Cape Town in microbiology and biochemistry. For the next 30 years he worked at the food company Anchor Yeast. When his father died of a heart attack at 50 years old, it made Alan wonder if he would make it to 50. Right there and then decided to stop smoking. Alan also considered other aspects of his lifestyle. He had always exercised but was aware that his stressful job didn’t help matters much.

Living with a heart condition

Ragani Govender 54years old, from KwaZulu Natal, has lived with a congenital heart condition her whole life, called Tetralogy of Fallot. Growing up wasn’t easy, as she had to be in hospital for a lot of her childhood, being probed and examined on a daily basis. Ragani has had this heart defect since birth, which involves abnormalities of the heart resulting in low oxygen in the blood, she was known as the blue baby.

Walking away from stroke

Brigitte Zoghby, 53, was always very fit. In fact, in February 1997 she swam the Midmar mile, a grueling 1,610 km open water swimming event. Brigitte says, “I always saw myself as fit and healthy. I was very active.” Yet by April the same year, she had suffered a stroke. Brigitte was only 37.

A very different Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day, the day when love is celebrated. For many, it’s a happy day filled with chocolates, flowers and poems.  For Denvor Fielies, 40 years old from Pretoria East, his Valentine’s Day will have a completely different meaning from now on. This year, Denvor had one of the most important days of his life.

Grateful to be alive

Meet Anthony Breakey, 47, from the beautiful town of George. He doesn’t smoke, drink or get stressed out easily. But it wasn’t always this way. Anthony changed his lifestyle. He had to. While on leave in 2008, Anthony was cycling up the Outeniqua mountains when he started to experience what he thought was indigestion. Like most people, he ignored it and continued cycling. That was until he started feeling extremely tired and started making his way home. He was overcome by what he describes as someone tightening a belt around his chest.

Leon's life flashing before his eyes

Leon Singer, at the age of 57, was doing chores and going to the bank, when something happened that changed his life forever. Getting married? No. Becoming a father? No. Leon was experiencing a crushing pain across his chest and started sweating.