2019 will be my 6th and final year of studying medicine at the University of Cape Town.
I first became interested in medicine because of my obsession with the human body and later, the human brain. When I learnt that we had "Old-timers" (Alzheimer's disease) in my mother's side of the family, my adolescent brain decided that I would need to develop a cure for Alzheimer's! A ridiculous dream, but one that motivated me to worm my way into medical school.
5 years on and I still dream of making groundbreaking discoveries about the brain; perhaps this will involve curing some 'incurable disease', or perhaps I will just be laying the ground-work for the next generation. Whatever that dreams develops into, I am now 1 year away from completing my first step towards it.
For much of the last 5 years I have been juggling studying medicine with working as a topless waiter at Beefcakes. While I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to work at Beefcakes, when so many people in our country struggle to find employment, I am painfully aware of the effect that spending so much time trying to make an income has had on my studies. I have been extremely fortunate not to have failed a single course/subject since starting my studies in 2014 and this has largely been due to support from friends, family, and some of the Health Science Faculty members. I find, however, that I am near the end of my tether.
While the majority of my fees are covered by GAP funding (financial aid and loans), I am finding it increasing difficult to cope with the cost of rent, food, and other living expenses. This has been exacerbated by the fact that, as I have progressed through my medical tuition, I have had less time to work. I am now in a position where I am just making enough money to buy groceries and my brother is contributing what he can to my rent, while my parents make what contributions they can when possible (while barely managing to stay afloat themselves). This arrangement is not sustainable - not even for "just 1 more year".
I am going to need funding to make it though next year. Another student loan is not possible due to outstanding debt and I am receiving the maximum financial aid that UCT is willing to supply (for which I am also very thankful). The amount I have stipulated would ONLY cover rent for next year and I would still need to work to buy groceries, but being safe in the knowledge that I have a roof over my head would go a long way to getting me through the year.
I don't know the ethics behind offering free medical consultations for donors, but it seems legit...
(Almost Dr) Frank