Lessons on living life from losing my friend to cancer

The Nyeri cancer centre.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ours wasn’t friendship at first sight.
  • In fact, neither of us thought we’d have much to talk about if we found ourselves in the same room.
  • After his leg was amputated, he moved with the help of crutches.
  • He defeated cancer. He was intentional with the way he lived his life.

I remember how present in the moment I was when Archie and I were singing a “Gengetone” jam before the group made a debut in the local music industry. He taught me that song as he was undergoing his last chemotherapy session. 

Archie and I knew each other from a computer class we were taking after high school. Ours wasn’t friendship at first sight. In fact, neither of us thought we’d have much to talk about if we found ourselves in the same room. Fast-forward to months later when a mutual friend called me on a Saturday evening saying: “When are we going to see Archie?”

This question was followed by a long pause; my ignorance must have been perceptible.

“You don’t know Archie’s leg was amputated? He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the leg.”

It took me a while to comprehend that piece of information but eventually I called him and we planned the visit.

An intimate friendship morphed out of that first visit. From there we became inseparable. Archie was a lover of life.

Leg amputated

After his leg was amputated, he moved with the help of crutches.

He’d insist on seeing his friends off to the stage with the crutches. When he started shedding hair after he started chemotherapy, he’d let us pluck his beard.

There was never a dull moment with him. I don’t remember a single day this 18-year-old spent wallowing in self-pity. One day I asked him if he was afraid of death.

“No. I am living my life to the fullest. I’m not scared,” he said.

That was such a profound moment for me. Unfortunately, we lost him to cancer. In hindsight though, he won.

He defeated cancer. He was intentional with the way he lived his life. Losing loved ones is difficult. Losing someone with integrity, strength, honour and wisdom like Archie was devastating.

I am intentional about living each day to the best of my ability. My goal is to die happy, having been kind and impactful. I hope that you too live a fulfilling life.

Gachambi Nderitu, 20, is a student at Kenyatta University.         


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