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#OwnYourLife: Covid vaccine saved my mother’s life – It can save yours too

───   13:13 Mon, 27 Sep 2021

#OwnYourLife: Covid vaccine saved my mother’s life – It can save yours too | News Article
Photo supplied by the Citizen's Bernadette Wicks

She can’t tell you how or why vaccines work, but they do, and Bernadette Wicks is grateful that vaccination saved her mother's life.


I often think my mother is who Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote “though she be but little she be fierce” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

She is a small woman, but her strength is unyielding and her bravery is unfaltering. I have witnessed her come apart only a handful of times in my life. One of those was mid-2020 when the first wave of Covid was peaking.

My mother is a nurse. She phoned me at around 7.30pm one night. At first there was just silence and I thought she had dialled me by mistake. But then, her voice broke through, soft and muffled. I could hear she was in a parked car and that she had been crying.

She had just gotten off a 12-hour shift at the hospital where she works. There’s a bell the nurses ring when they’re doing a resuscitation to alert other nurses who are available and get as many hands on deck as possible. It hadn’t stopped ringing the whole day, she told me. But she wasn’t just tired. She was angry.

And she was scared.

My mother is also a cancer survivor. In 2019, she was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer and had to undergo several rounds of chemotherapy.

For months, that life-saving but brutal treatment gave her its worst. But for months, she gave it hers back. And eventually she came out on the other side.

As a cancer survivor, Bernadette Wicks’ mother wasn’t going to let Covid beat her. 

It had only been a couple of months since her last round of chemotherapy – her hair had only just started growing back – and her system was still reeling when the first Covid case was reported in South Africa. But she hadn’t let cancer stop her before – working all through her treatment, and taking off only to go and have it administered – and she wasn’t going to start now.

Why? Because before my mother is anything else, she’s a nurse. It’s not just what she does, it’s who she is.

She’s the kind of person who stops at accident scenes to help. She’s the kind of person who other people call in emergencies because she’s the kind of person who shows up – no matter the time, day or night. She’s the kind of person who will stick around for hours after her shift to hold a grieving wife’s hand. She’s the kind of person who comes home afterwards and cries.

So, for months on end, she woke up every day and quite literally took her life in her hands to do her part to win this war. She lost friends and patients. It took her to the very edge.

As a nurse, she was fortunate enough to be able to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine relatively early on. We both cried that day – tears of relief because she was finally safe: tears of grief for all those who didn’t make it to this point; and tears of hope because for the first time since the pandemic first hit, it finally felt like there was light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

A couple of months after my mother was vaccinated, my stepfather contracted Covid and she remained negative.

Vaccines work. I can’t tell you how or why. But I can tell you they do and that I believe whole-heartedly that my mother’s vaccine prevented her from contracting a virus that could have killed her.


The Citizen's Bernadette Wicks 

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