“You go into autopilot. It’s incredible how you do manage to find the strength to cope. If it’s your child, you can’t give up; you have to carry on.” - Alta Joubert . 

Little Stephan Joubert was only eight months old when he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the adrenal gland. He had an 8x12cm tumor growing in his tiny abdomen, and in that moment, the Joubert’s world turned upside down.  

Thankfully, his parents Hermanus and Alta Joubert had taken out life insurance just a few months before Stephan arrived: "As soon as there’s a child, there are school fees, extra food, extra medical aid, extra everything. One person can’t easily provide on their own if they lose their spouse. That’s why we thought we should get our affairs in order before our first child was born." says Alta.  

At the advice of their financial adviser, they decided FMI was their best option. Alta recalls discussing the fine print but them not paying too much attention to the detail.  

“We understood the main parts of our cover, like we’d receive a payout if one of us died or got critically ill. And we had income protection. But that was about all. I certainly didn’t think there was any cover for children or that it would be necessary to have that sort of cover. We never thought something like that would ever happen. Even for myself… I got the cover just in case, but I also felt like I was wasting money because it would never be used. Little did I know what would come next...” 

Too young for surgery, Stephan endured six months of chemotherapy. Every three weeks Stephan would receive treatment in hospital for four days at a time, unlike adults who can usually go home after each chemo session. A weakened immune system also saw Stephan back in hospital for a course of intravenous antibiotics to settle his fever; often for a week at a time.  

For Alta, the intermittent and unpredictable nature of Stephan’s treatment meant she needed time off work to take care of her son. As a teacher she also couldn’t risk exposing him to any of the many viruses carried by young children. Luckily it was only about a month after Stephan’s diagnosis, during their annual review with their adviser, that Hermanus and Alta realised they’d each receive a 10% payout of their critical illness lump sum.  

“What amazed me was the speed of the claims process with FMI,” says Alta. “FMI kept me informed during the whole process. And the next moment, I received a letter informing me of the payout amount and the date FMI would pay it. Within a day or two, the money was in my account. Every single thing with my son’s illness was a struggle, except for our dealings with FMI.”   

The money came at a time when they really needed it. While their medical aid took care of their medical costs, their FMI payout meant they could afford the extra day-to-day expenses that come with living with cancer. Comfortable clothing for Alta during her hospital stays with Stephan and a range of food to keep up his strength during chemo were one of the few examples that thankfully Alta could afford:  

“We didn’t have to stress about making ends meet. I could focus on my child and on getting him better instead of our finances. We were one of the few families who didn’t have to ask for help or arrange fundraisers to pay the bills. I know for most families going through the same thing, it’s one of their biggest challenges.”  

For Alta, FMI became like family. Bronwyn in Claims was personally involved, constantly checking in to do what she could to help Alta and her family. It was Bronwyn who told Alta that she also qualified for an income protection claim and helped her with the forms and claims process. After six months of treatment, Stephan’s tumour had reduced in size and they continued with further chemo before removing the growth altogether in a successful operation. But just days after the surgery, Stephan suffered a stroke, leaving the left side of his little body paralysed. The doctors discovered two blood clots on the brain as well as brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen during the stroke.  

In what Alta can only explain as a miracle, Stephan has made an incredible recovery with no signs of brain damage or paralysis.He finished all this treatment by December 2020 and is now a happy and healthy child. 

In February 2021, Hermanus and Alta welcomed another addition to the family with the birth of their second son. This time, for happier reasons, Alta qualified for another claim through FMI’s Childbirth benefit. This meant she received 12 months of her premiums to cover all the extra expenses that come with caring for a newborn, like nappies and clothing. 

It’s been a long road for the Joubert family, with fantastical highs and unimaginable lows. But as Alta concludes, “Our experience with FMI has just been amazing. Not only from a peace of mind and financial perspective, but we also felt we were dealing with people who really cared - and that can make all the difference.”  

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