“Keep your chin up, son!”

This guest post is long overdue, and to think the author is barely 18 years old. Quite  Impressive; here goes…


(Oh wait, I haven’t introduced myself and I’m giving you my story already! I’m Michael Muthusi, that’s not my real name because I don’t want strangers messaging me on Facebook like, “Hey Mike, I’m Sally, I love your blog post on Canduh’s blog” – just comment on this blog if you feel this blog post).remember that fateful Thursday evening like it was yesterday. It was a normal evening. I was out on the basketball court practicing for the basketball season which was around the corner. My left leg was feeling tingly but in a painful way. The pain became more intense as I went on playing. Have you ever imagined getting shot in your left leg? No? Then that’s how it felt, you are there imagining while yours truly was in that situation. I was one of those players who were not supposed to miss training, if we did…. After 10 minutes of play, my body got weak and I felt myself collapsing on the ground. The last thing I remember from that basketball court is people calling for help.

The next day I found myself in hospital; my parents and some nurses, were watching me as I recovered from that knock out. My mother held my hand and after what seemed to be an eternity of silence – she sighed and tears flew down from her eyes. Maybe she hadn’t imagined me in a hospital bed before, like life would be always good for her only child. Wrong. She broke the news to me that I had a developed tumor better known as an Ewing tumor on my pelvis bone. (Why are you looking at me like that – I can’t explain what an Ewing tumor is, you have google or SIRI).

There comes a time when visiting hours in hospitals are over and all your loved ones, those who bring you flowers, juice and nutritious foods all leave and you’re left alone – with strangers who are in the same situation as you. That’s when you reflect on what you have done and failed to do. Some cry, some don’t. Some people talk about what they will do when they’ll finally get well, some are silent. I was among the silent ones.

My school mates also visited me and they looked at me, their eyes were full of clemency like, “this guy will be goners in a matter of months”. That was disheartening. But one of my classmates Peter, used to encourage me always when he came by the hospital. He used to tell me that things will be okay – he didn’t really describe what things but I just assumed he was saying I would get well soon.


Our family at that time was a young family, my parents opted to have one child by then since we were not well-up financially, that’s the excuse I got when I said I wanted a small sister. Sometime back, my aunt told me I had been adopted, but since my parents had never told me such a thing, I lived with them peacefully. I had a feeling my father despised me because of my dismal performance in school. Need I say I was caught pants down by my dad in the cyber trying to change my marks – (but I’m still intelligent because that still needed a lot of accuracy but I wasn’t smart enough to do it more discretely). My mother supported my father always and that saw my behind get a thorough whacking in front of my school mates because I had been suspended from school for sneaking out of school to watch the UEFA Champions league finals, Barcelona versus Manchester United. Barcelona won. Sadly.

Back at the ward, the doctor who was under my care was Dr.Gachukia – that’s what his name tag read. He was an intern at the hospital, he looked fairly young like he was in his mid-20s with long beards which made him look like a Mujahedeen. He told my parents that my breed of cancer was dangerous and they feared that it had spread uncontrollably in my body. My parents were a depressed lot, I don’t want to describe their sadness but they were gloomier than me, that’s irony.

The nurse at my ward, told me my fate: She said, “Baada ya miezi tano, utaenda nyumbani” meaning that in five months I would be going home, I was happy but it hit me what she had said, she didn’t mean ”nyumbani” kwa mum and dad – nope! She meant the other “nyumbani” where you go and never come back. I needed a miracle. There comes a time where you have to be your own man. Standing up to all challenges – If you feel me say “Amen”.

Weeks turned into months and I saw people come and go and one day as Peter and my classmates came to visit me, Peter secretly handed me a note. A note which he didn’t want me to read in public, something had happened and that something wasn’t good at all – it seemed.

Spending those nights at that ward was stressful, because people snore their noses out as they sleep peacefully. During the night of that day that Peter gave me a note, I opened it and read it.

Dear Michael,

This is to tell you that we at school are really missing your presence and the school basketball team made it to the nationals at Alliance High School. I’m really sorry for what you are going through, I overheard your doctor telling Mr. Gachungi, that you have a Ewing tumor which by my research in the internet it is known to be dangerous and people do not live for long. You’ll live for long though because I’m still praying for you.

                                                                                                Regards Peter.

The next morning after that night as the doctors came for their ward rounds and the senior doctor breathing fire to the junior doctors because of missing a ‘very important procedure, like knowing where the patient lives or telling him the correct time, I’m not against doctors but seriously? Don’t ask me, I want to be an architect! Anyway the junior doctors usually looked like overworked funny looking circus monkeys after their shifts. Ha-ha. How else would you know I’m fresh from high school if I don’t describe to you all these things?

I called the doctors and told them about what they were hiding from me. I scolded them with shouting in a high voice. I caused a scene at the ward and everybody surrounded my bed looking at me with those “shut your mouth!” eyes. I demanded the doctors to tell me how many days I had left because the tumor had developed a sharp pain in my leg and my body was also affected by the pain. You know how some people talk and you want to cuss right in their face? Well someone shouted “Huyu ni mwendawazimu!” – “He’s a crazy person!” To a cancer patient! Lord have mercy!

After they managed to cool me down after I attempted to throttle that woman’s neck. I was then called to a room in the hospital I’ll never forget, a room where my destiny was told to me point blank. A room where I saw my mum and dad shed tears. A room where a psychologist and my parents waited for me to get there. After hours and hours of explanations, I came to know that I was to face the reality, I would not be living in five months’ time.

All I can remember from that room is the hug I received from my dad when the news was broken to me, he patted me in the back and said to me, “All is going to be well, keep your chin up, son!”

“All is going to be well, keep your chin up, son!”

That night I couldn’t eat or sleep. The concerned nurses came over and tried to lull me down to eat and sleep but it didn’t yield to anything, they gave up. I looked outside to the skies, the moon was shaped like a banana with stars spilled all over the sky. I regretted the things I did and remembered all the cool things I used to do in high school. Life is short, you might be reading this blog post and think to yourself, “I can’t get cancer because I eat fruits daily – Not true!” It’s fate. If you live like Lil Wayne and you aren’t thankful for each day you live you’re lying to yourself, anything can happen, so get this from me. Life is a risk and if you think you’re having a bad day, try to put yourself in my shoes.

After hours of thought, I felt that sharp pain in my leg becoming more and more, to the point that I started shouting for help, to the dismay of the people in the same ward as I. Fortunately, the nurses heard my cry and called the doctors who immediately refereed me to the theater. I was a 16 year old boy heading to the theater at 2:20 AM – that’s not what you would expect of someone in that age.

Before they got into action, the doctors examined me and told me that I should wait for more doctors because my case was getting more intense. The following day other doctors came in from Nairobi and Eldoret to examine me in the ICU but they weren’t sure of what they would do, I was surprised to see surgeons with 24 years of experience giving up, they told me that. Why did this all happen to me? What had I done to deserve a disease that doctors of that caliber couldn’t have an idea to treat me? Why me?

After much wait, a doctor from South Africa came to examine my leg. (Don’t ever under-estimate South African’s, even with their weird accents, especially Dr. Richardson). See the reason I didn’t want to tell you my name? They would email me a letter telling me not to step into South African soil or deny me a visa. Finally, I was on the operation bed with several surgeons surrounding me. The South African doctor, Dr. Richardson, briefed me to a small lecture of which I heard nothing apart from when he said hello, oh and when he said “Johannesburg”, I didn’t know whether he said he lives there or works there.

I woke up again in the ward in a sunny afternoon. I couldn’t move the rest of my body and suddenly I couldn’t feel any pain. After some days of recuperation. Finally, when I was able to move I moved my hands to where the pain had stung before the operation, only to know that they had amputated my leg. I don’t know why Dr. Richardson decided to amputate my leg even though the tumor had spread. Dr. Richardson then came and gave me his prescription of a list of drugs I should take and he recommended that I should also go for radiotherapy sessions.

Life would never be the same again. Though I got well, my life would be centered on a wheel chair. I knew this would be hard but my father’s words kept repeating themselves in my mind, “All is going to be well, keep your chin up, son!” As I was taken out of that hospital many people solicited handsome amounts of money to pay the huge hospital bills and also for my up keep.

Back at school, people treated me with mercy, they still thought I had cancer. Ha-ha. Poor souls. Even though sometimes I was stigmatized and discriminated against because I was on a wheel chair. I still stood to my ground and lifted my head high because life is bigger than what other people think or say about you.

Life is bigger than what other people think or say about you.

This story is a tribute to all who have suffered or are suffering from cancer and all other diseases. Life in those situations is not easy. Don’t give up, don’t lose hope, keep your chin up!


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