Chisom Chukwuneke, a student who emerged the best 2019 candidate of the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, WASSCE, in her school, has passed away after battling blood cancer.
Douglas Ifeanyin Uzochukwu, principal of the Graceland College in Enugu, where she graduated from last year, confirmed the tragic development to TheCable Lifestyle on Wednesday.
Blood cancer, also called leukaemia, is a disease in which the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce increased numbers of immature or abnormal leukocytes, thereby suppressing the production of normal blood cells.
Uzochukwu said the deceased, 17, died after prolonged treatment in South Africa.
“I’m not her father. I can’t speak much on that but she passed on from leukaemia after prolonged treatment in South Africa,” he added.
In a statement published via the school’s Facebook page, it wrote: “Forever in our hearts! Only a moment you stayed, but what an imprint you left in our Hall of Fame. A truly outstanding student! Rest In Peace Chisom!”
Felix Chukwuneke, a Nigerian professor identified as the father of the deceased, also took to Facebook to narrate how Chisom’s sickness started as leg pain.
He said this had prompted him to fly her to South Africa for medical care.
“Just like a dream but the realities are crystal now. Just a pain on the leg that snowballed to a devastating episode, the battle started earnestly. I hear you call, ‘daddy my leg is paining me’. I watch as you lie abed with pain,” he said in a long tribute to the deceased.
“As restless and worried as I can be, I promised to do everything humanly possible. With glaring poor health care in Nigeria. Off we went to South Africa. We were happy at your initial recovery, not knowing the war was just to begin.
“We fought it together for more than a year in SA. You were an embodiment of intelligence of inestimable value. Above all an indefatigable personality, courageous in the face of glaring uncertainty. You were strong, philosophical.
“My strength even in sickness, you wanted your dad freed while you go on to rest. In the bosom of our Lord where there is no more pain. You spoke in parables about a special gift 10 days earlier, and left a day to my birthday.
“Never did I know your gift you promised was your glorious exit. You exhibited virtuoso and dazzling intellects to the bewilderment of the doctors at Wits Donald Gordon Hospital, Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa
“Today your name is written in Gold over there. Like a shining light in the tunnel, having a dream for an African Child with less privilege and opportunity like you to access good health care. This your dream I must ensure.”
Pictures of plaques evidencing the many academic achievements of the deceased have flooded social media as words of her death spread.