23 January 2023
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cassina Wangra from Eldorado Park in Gauteng was diagnosed with keratoconus, a condition in which the cornea grows thin and weak.
The Parktown Girls High School pupil told News24 her journey to clinching one of the top spots in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams matric results at her school was not easy, considering the challenges of fighting the pandemic and her condition.
"When I found out about my condition, I felt demotivated, it did not make sense. It felt like a piece of my everyday life was stolen from me," the 17-year-old said.
Wangra added little pleasures like going out in the sun or admiring the beautiful clouds was no longer something she could enjoy.
Keratoconus presents with blurred or distorted vision, sudden worsening or clouding of vision and increased sensitivity to bright light and glare.
Wangra said she had to have a corneal cross-linking procedure, which is a minimally invasive procedure that uses ultraviolet light and eye drops to strengthen the collagen fibres in the cornea.
This resulted in her missing out on three weeks of her Grade 10 class but with the help of her teachers, she was able to catch up.
"They took time out of their free time for a few days to come and teach me, and it just shows me the dedication and concern they have for [pupils]."
She added the matric workload put a strain on her,saying:
My matric year was stressful, but I enjoyed it a lot. Some of the challenges I faced during my matric year was that I suffered from severe migraines, especially when I was under a lot of pressure.
Wangra said she managed her migraines through meditating, breathing exercises, and yoga, which helped her destress and loosen up the tension in her muscles.
She exceeded her own expectations when she received full colours in matric which made her proud.
She got four distinctions in Afrikaans First Additional Language, History, Life Sciences and Physical Science.
Wangra will be studying chemical engineering at the University of Cape Town.
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