In this four-part special series, News24 examines modern medicine, the innovations that help improve people's lives and the resilience of the human condition.
1 December 2018 is a day the Vorster family will likely never forget.
Not because it's a birthday or anniversary, but because it's the day their ever-energetic 2-year-old son, Declan, was diagnosed with the lifelong, chronic and potentially deadly condition type 1 diabetes.
His mom, Shalane's, suspicions were raised when Declan complained of being thirsty all the time. The then-toddler suddenly and inexplicably craved plenty of tea before bed. Instead of drinking his usual 60ml, he was drinking up to 600ml over a couple of days.
"It didn't sit well, so I decided to take him to the doctor, and they did a blood test," she told News24.
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Six years ago, first-year university student Tylo Sargeant's life went from normal to nightmare in an instant. The then 19-year-old began to feel ill in her accounting class on 17 February 2015. She recalled suddenly being freezing cold despite the warm temperature outside.
Not knowing what was wrong, Tylo excused herself from class and returned to her residence to rest. About six hours later, when she woke up, she couldn't move. In a state of sheer panic and confusion, Tylo called her mother, Mona.
"The doctor said something is very wrong with her; something is eating her white blood cells. I didn't realise they already thought she wouldn't make it through the night," Mona said.
Modern Medicine: Cancer survivor's new face brings renewed hope
When you press Luan Adams about his life goals and dreams, his answer is simple. "One of my dreams is to stop seeing the doctor a lot." Over the past 12 years, he's had countless hospital visits and has undergone many treatments to help save his life.
Back in 2009, at the age of 21, Adams developed sinus problems. He knew something was wrong when his face began to swell. He visited his doctor for a sinus flush, but when the problem persisted, and none of the medication he had been prescribed seemed to work - he sought a second opinion.
A dentist eventually referred Adams to a specialist at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, where he received devastating news.
"I went to Steve Biko, and the nurse said: 'You know what, I think it's cancer'," Adams told News24.
He initially brushed off the diagnosis, remaining hopeful that the swelling in his face was just a result of inflamed sinuses. But when doctors conducted a biopsy on a piece of his jaw to run some tests, it confirmed the worst - he had cancer.