By JACINTA COHLEE
WHEN she suffered a disease affecting her breathing while in secondary school, Victoria Kose vowed to complete her education, come what may.
“It was a disease I never knew I would have because my mother is a nurse. The doctor never spoke directly to me about my illness, but only to my parents to avoid putting me in a difficult situation.”
She experienced difficulty in breathing, limiting her movements and social life.
Victoria, 24, recalled her struggle as she proudly stood beside her nurse-mum Kay after receiving a Bachelor in Environmental Health degree from the Divine Word University in Madang recently.
Kiki, as many call her, is the second eldest daughter in a family of six born to parents Herman, an accountant, and Kay, a nurse at the PNG Institute of Medical Research, now retired.
Kiki was attending the Tusbab Secondary School when she became sick.
“My health was a major problem during my teenage years. I never got to taste or do anything freely as my friends did. I had difficulty breathing when there is mucus blocking the lining of the air passage.
“I always felt like dying because of my breathing difficulty. It caused me unhappiness and stress.”
Kiki could not engage in social activities with her friends and family. She was always left out of social gatherings.
“I would be at home in my room while my friends, family and relatives engage in social activities. It made me question my existence.”
She tried her best not to miss school.
“The disease may stop me from attending activities but not my education. I tried my best to attend classes and to catch up with the rest of the class.”
She refused to withdraw from classes. But eventually the disease took its toll.
“I wasn’t able to continue my education because I was behind in class. I flunked Grade 12 in 2015.”
In 2016, she watched as her friends upgraded their marks at the University of PNG Open Campus in Madang.
In 2017, she applied to study Information System at the Divine Word University but was late for registration.
In 2018, she applied again and this time, she got registered to pursue the Bachelor of Environmental Health degree programme.
“It was probably God’s plan for me to study Environmental Health. I’m glad I did so that I could help people take care of the environment and avoid getting sick.”
“ The doctor never spoke directly to me about my illness, but only to my parents to avoid putting me in a difficult situation.”
Her parents wanted her to be close to them so they could keep a watch on her.
“My Mom always carries the medical kit around with her when we travel.”
Victoria is thankful to her family for supporting her, especially her parents who she describes as “strict but loving, caring and open to everyone”.
“I probably got that from them.”
In 2019, Victoria noticed a change in her health. She no longer experienced breathing problems.
“Thank God. I think the disease is starting to fade away. It has been a long time that I can breathe normally again. From mid-2019 to now. I’m at ease.”
She sees it as a miracle, but has learnt a lot from the struggle.
“I recently graduated from Divine Word University with a Bachelor in Environmental Health and will further my study in my field.”
Her advice to others is never to give up.
“Everyone has their own timing. Mine might be today and yours might be tomorrow. Just do not lose hope, and trust the process.”