Prior to being diagnosed with a Neuroblastoma, Unicka experienced several symptoms of this cancer, including night sweats and rapid weight loss. These indicators were to usher in what was to be the start of an exceptionally trying time for the Bothma family. A specialist diagnosis confirmed that this little angel of just a year had a Neuroblastoma on her left kidney. Initially doctors believed the tumour was isolated but later discovered it had spread to her adrenal glands. First came several rounds of chemotherapy and then the 400g tumour was removed from her little body in 2006. Her kidney, an adrenal gland and part of her diaphragm were also removed. She was very ill at this time and everyday her family feared the worst. But the family’s pain was just beginning. On 28 April 2006 Unicka’s beloved father, Loftus, was tragically killed in a car accident. After the funeral Unicka’s fever started to break and she miraculously took her first steps. Healing could now begin for the whole family. But in 2010, crushingly two more tumours were discovered. Mercifully they were not malignant and again demonstrating great courage, she underwent surgery to remove them.
Her 15-month old photo in the 2007 MIT calendar shows her vulnerability and looking at the image it’s hard to imagine that one so beautiful and so young, had endured such pain, so early in life. Now 11, Unicka is in remission and lives a full, healthy and happy life. She loves animals, music, and dancing. She enjoys hockey and tennis, giving speeches and inspiring people and can often be heard saing it’s the ‘can’ in ‘cancer’that helped her beat her illness. This positive little girl is deeply cherished by her older sisters.