More than meets the eye

Lizelle Van Schalkwyk thrives under pressure.

22 November 2019 | Health

Evany van Wyk



“Being able to do what I do – and doing it well – is a blessing!” says Lizelle van Schalkwyk, the executive assistant to management at the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) and technical team leader on Namibia National Cancer Registry (NNCR).

Van Schalkwyk is a woman with an immense passion, love and capability to do her work. Originally from Welkom in South Africa, Van Schalkwyk and her family moved to Henties Bay after she matriculated. After becoming restless in the small town, she decided to make the move to the big city, where she met her husband. “I am blessed to be the mother of three beautiful, healthy but also very busy children,” she says.

Van Schalkwyk says working for a welfare organisation that helps the community as much as CAN does has always been in the cards for her. She finds it very gratifying to know that even the smallest part that she plays may have assisted in saving or impacting a life.

Her job at CAN involves the daily management, administration as well as data processing where she assists the medical professionals and students and supplies them with quality data for research purposes.

“I assist the chief executive officer (CEO) in many aspects, from organising congresses and meetings, typing official letters to serving tea and coffee to visitors of CAN,” she explains.

Juggling her duties and making sure to keep all the balls in the air is sometimes challenging, but at the same time Van Schalkwyk says it is also the most rewarding, because she thrives under pressure.

“The more I have to do, the happier I am,” she says.

Admittedly, there are some days when there is no time to stop and smell the roses, but she is adamant that she would not change anything about where she is or what she does. Because she works so well under pressure, she sees her corporate superpower as stress destruction.

“I work well with my colleagues because we’re not just a team. We’re a family who stands by each other. I want to be the one who picks you up when you might stumble and fall, dust you off and say: “You CAN do this!”

Being emotionally involved in many of the cancer patients’ journeys, she sometimes finds herself wanting to simply sit in a corner and cry. She cries for everything they have to go through, everything they have to overcome, everything they had to give up and so much more that they are not even aware of.

“I allow myself the time to cry for them, because when I’m done I have the newfound energy to go back and fight with them,” she explains.

When Van Schalkwyk was younger she worked as a model for quite a number of years but she says that ship has sailed. If she could be anything in the world, a millionaire would be her first choice. She says it’s not just to be able to travel the world and see places she never dreamt she would, but to be able to give to those who do not have the means to live life to the fullest.

“I would give to those who battle this disease every day of their lives. To those who have to watch their loved ones suffer because they do not have what they need,” she says. Evidently Van Schalkwyk has one main goal in mind and that is to change the world.

With many experiences over the years Van Schalkwyk has learned to ask for tequila and salt when life decides to hand her lemons.

“Taking life too seriously is never a good thing. I believe it is sometimes necessary to take a step back and just live it.”

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