Dineo Kgomane’s unyielding spirit teaches us all04 September 2023
It just might be possible that one of the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet is a Grade 11 learner at Meridian Rustenburg. It sounds like the plot for an emotional novel, yet it’s the lived reality of our very own Dineo Kgomane. If you’re looking to put things into perspective, you’ll find no story more sobering than Dineo’s.
Adele du Plessis, Academic Administrator at Meridian Rustenburg, paints a compelling portrait of Dineo: ‘We have a Grade 11 learner at our school, Dineo Kgomane, that has been suffering cancer for about 6 years now. Despite her battle, she is the most positive learner! She has never even stayed home on the day following her chemotherapy. She absolutely refuses special treatment! Her oxygen cylinder gets left at home when coming to school since she wants her life at school to be ‘as normal as possible’ right up to the end.’
Imagine that. In a situation where most would seek special accommodations, Dineo insists on attending school without her oxygen cylinder. This is not about ignoring her medical needs; it’s a profound statement about how she chooses to live.
The essence of Dineo through the eyes of a friend
It’s no surprise that Dineo has made a lasting impression on her friends too. In a heartfelt letter, one of her friends lays it out:
Down to Earth
You have never been selfish, neither have you ever been negative about life. Every time you see me low or upset, even when I am not at times, you always take time to ask “What’s up?” and you always tell me “Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay.”
Despite everything you go through, you still remain focused on your schoolwork, and still remain an inspiration to me. I remember, in Grade 8, when you first told me about your medical condition and what you are going through. Today, we are in Grade 11, and I still find it so hard to understand how you, as young as you are, manage to stay stronger than most grown-ups I know. You are impeccable!
As we talked about your battle with cancer, you told me something that I would never have thought someone in your situation would say. You said: “I don’t want to be treated differently because I’m fighting cancer. I just want everyone to be treated equally and fairly, no special treatment because of what I’m going through”
Your want for peace, love and equality in life, as bad as it is for you, amazes me and often brings me to tears.
I cannot begin to list all the reasons why you are utterly too good for this world. You are so genuine, finding purpose in everything that you do. You inspire everyone around you. How many times have I told you how you inspire me? But you never learn to accept it.
You are so positive! Like, how does one become like you?
You always put others first, you are a true leader and model. I wish everyone knew that….
I am forever grateful to be your friend!
WE LOVE YOU!
WE ADORE YOU!
NOW AND FOREVER!"
Lessons we can learn
Dineo teaches us that courage isn’t always about grand gestures; sometimes, it’s about showing up. Just showing up. Teachers can take a page from Dineo’s book and show up every day, for every child, regardless of the challenges we might face.
More importantly, Dineo’s insistence on normalcy is not just about her; it’s a statement about what kind of society she desires—one that doesn’t discriminate or offer pity, but treats everyone as an equal human being. Teachers, this is the dream we work towards: where each learner is not just a grade on a report card, but a distinct individual deserving of respect and dignity.
A legacy that lives on
It’s humbling to think that Dineo, despite the dire prognosis from her doctors, is living every day with a kind of bravery and wisdom that many of us can only aspire to. Adele puts it best when she said, ‘She is truly remarkable and an inspiration to learners and teachers at Meridian Rustenburg.’
Let Dineo be a reminder that we don’t just teach our learners; they teach us too. And the lesson Dineo offers is worth its weight in gold—how to live fully, love deeply, and let your spirit shine brightly, no matter the odds.