So we woke up that morning in the hotel. We were attending a program together. We were also on a squat challenge… along with more than 100 women who were with us on our ‘Whatsapp’ healthy lifestyle group.
I think the challenge for the day was to do 120 squats.
I recall getting to 80 and wanting to stop. I looked over to Nkem and she was still going on her squats with no sign of stopping. I said to myself, ‘If she can do the challenge despite her diagnosis, I too can.’ So I carried on with my squats.
And we completed the squats challenge for the day.
I remember saying to myself that if Nkem wasn’t here, I probably would have deferred the remaining 40 squats to evening and by evening, I might have forgotten due to the business of life and end up not completing my squats.
You see Nkem was like that….
She swept you along with her strength. When you were with her, you believed you could do ANYTHING!!
As time went on, I knew she was often in pain. I would glance across the table at her or watch her from the corner of my eye and marvel at how she could keep such a straight face despite what was going on in her body.
As we went from place to place, I insisted on hauling her luggage and mine but she would often laugh at me and say something like ‘I am ok oh!’ or ‘Don’t be silly, Ada.’
She spoke so much about the power of the mind. She believed that what the mind believed and focused on would be one’s reality. She would often say ‘Onye kwe, chi ya ekwe’ meaning ‘ If you agree, your maker will agree.’
5 years ago diagnosed with the most aggressive form of cancer. She fought it. She gave it her best shot. She truly believed she would pull through. She wanted her story to encourage the millions of people out there suffering from cancer.
She went to the wards and told other cancer sufferers ‘Look at me!! I was diagnosed with cancer more advanced than yours so please believe you will pull through.’ She spread light and hope through the wards.
‘I see why people die, Ada’ she once said to me, ‘The pain is so bad…so bad…that the person just decides “Right I have had enough” and they give up and die.’ I know she was close to that several times. But she stayed strong. She did her best. Her legacy lives on.
RIP Dr Nkem Ezeilo (05/02/1973 – 11/09/2016)
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Dr Adaeze Ifezulike.
Family Physician and Author.