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News > Announcements > No One Makes It Out Alive!

No One Makes It Out Alive!

"Writhing and wailing, my head and eyes consumed by an agony I hope never to endure again, I knew I had to reach the ER as quickly as possible." Thabang Skwambane (1993F) on mortality and purpose


Class of 1993

Only a few weeks ago, I found myself alone at home while my wife and kids were in France. In excruciating pain, I desperately managed to book an Uber. However, I didn't even make it past the reception at Milpark Hospital's Emergency Room (ER). I was writhing and wailing, my head and eyes consumed by an agony I hope never to endure again. In that terrifying moment, I knew I had to reach the ER as quickly as possible.

In South Africa, many black males avoid accessing healthcare services due to the stigma attached to acknowledging health issues and seeking help. I was determined not to become another statistic.

The diagnosis was viral encephalitis (an inflammation/swelling of the brain and spinal cord), requiring 21 days of potent intravenous (IV) treatment. Interestingly, this is the same duration it takes to "change a habit."

It's a rare illness caused by a very common virus, HSV-1 (Herpes Simplex Virus), responsible for cold sores and mouth and gastric ulcers. It seems likely that I came into contact with the virus and inadvertently touched my eyes, nose, or mouth, going through my sinuses or eyes and attacking my brain and spinal cord. I was really fortunate to have an extraordinary team of healthcare professionals in the Neuro-ICU at Milpark Hospital to help pull me through. 

I remember what was going through my mind in those early stages where my illness was still life-threatening.  Suddenly I was confronted with the transience of my own life and the importance of those daily health and life choices that we make.

After this experience, I feel compelled to share some life lessons that hit home:

Lesson #1 - Patience

Healing and recovery take time. Embrace the present, be patient with yourself, and focus on incremental progress.

Lesson #2 - Trust

Trust is an action that demands courage and belief. To my incredibly talented team Nahana Communications Group, thank you for your unwavering support.

Lesson #3 - Get medical insurance

Insure yourself and your loved ones. My wife, Sharon Skwambane insisted we switch to a more comprehensive medical plan at the beginning of the year - thank you my love! Regardless of your age, accidents happen, and risk insurance isn't pessimism but pragmatism in caring for yourself and your loved ones.

Lesson #4 - Make memories and not just money

Make meaningful memories while earning a living. Reflect on what will truly matter when you leave this earth. Your legacy is shaped by those who remember you, not by your wealth or possessions.

Lesson #5 -  The time is now

Begin living today and make the most of your time on this earth, starting NOW. Live, learn, trust courageously, and, above all, love yourself, your "peeps," and your maker, whomever you believe in.

Special thanks are in order
I have to extend my utmost gratitude to Lea Burton, my remarkable assistant, who went above and beyond to support me during this episode.

What are your thoughts?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on living life to the fullest, giving your best to your business, teams, family, and friends, and creating meaningful memories that define your legacy beyond the pursuit of wealth.

Because in this life, no one makes it out alive!

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