Chante’s dream becomes a reality

Chante Heynes graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree last week. PICTURE: JEFFREY ABRAHAMS

A rare brain condition that left Chante Heynes visually impaired did not stop her from realising her dream.

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) student graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree last week.

The 24-year-old from Kuils River, who has this year embarked on her Master of Laws degree, was diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension after a car accident in 2014 while in her third year.

She suffered from painful headaches after the accident, and her doctor recommended she sees a specialist. “The specialist immediately made an appointment at the hospital for tests. Any delay could have meant permanent blindness,” said Ms Heyns.

What followed were two years of painful lumbar-puncture treatment to relieve pressure in her brain caused by fluid build-up. She lost a year of study.

Last year, she underwent surgery to have a shunt and tube inserted into her brain.

“Since my diagnosis, I cannot put into words the support I received from my family; they were incredible and were there when I needed it. The university, through its office for students with special needs, assisted with study materials, a psychologist, a separate study and exam location, and I returned two months earlier to complete my final year.”

She plans to study criminal law over the next few years and hopes one day to join the fight against corruption.

Her mother, Valencia, said it was difficult watching their daughter in pain and having to live with her condition.

“The way she has battled through and learned to live with it, graduate and continue to study has made our family super-proud. Only Chante’s faith and hard work has made this moment possible.”

She said words could not express the feelings she had as her daughter prepared to receive her first degree, and she had every faith her future would be bright as long as she kept the faith and continued to work hard.