In 2017, micro blog social media platform Twitter, trended with a hashtag #SaveNiyi. Friends of Niyi took to the platform to solicit for financial support to save a friend who had been diagnosed of lymphatic cancer.
On July 2020, Niyi took to his account @KolawoleOlaniy7 to announce he had passed his Law School exams and thanking to who supported him.
His story is one of struggles to survive from life threatening health complication and taking care of his stomach and academic needs. In all he has triumphed. I am very sure that all those who had seen him as a beggar and ignored his call for help or who would probably even report his account for reaching out to them for help, will one day look back and wished they were part of his success story in life.
I reached out to Olaniyi to share his story if this would inspire others not to give up in their life struggles and he graciously did obliged. Enjoy the read.
My Story Surviving Cancer
…tapping my feet and staring at her simultaneously with undisguised anxiety as she checked my biopsy result. Finally she told me Kolawole, you need to commence your treatment as soon as possible and this would run for not less than eight months.
As I heard this, thousands of thoughts ran through my mind. Where was I going to get the funds from? What would happen to my academics? Oblivious of the fact that when there’s life there’s hope.
In every story there’s a beginning and mine is no exception because this apparently serves as the beginning to my story and how I was saved by Gods amazing grace.
My name is Kolawole Olaniyi Emmanuel. In 2017 I was diagnosed of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I cannot really state in particular when my ailment started because most times we don’t notice the alteration of chemical substances in our body system. However, the first time I noticed a change in the physiological composition of my body was one fateful morning around September in 2016, , it was towards the end of 300l second semester. My roommates observed a swelling on the left side of my neck.
Unbeknownst to me that this was the genesis of my walk through the valley of the shadow of death. On noticing this and seeing the utter apprehension on the faces of my roommates I quickly allayed their fears by saying my sleeping position must have caused it. I assured them that there was nothing to fear.
Then we all went on our business of the day which was to prepare for lectures. In most tertiary institutions, going for lectures is one of the rituals that students engage in, as this is often seen as a sine qua non for learning and acquiring knowledge.
Speaking of my academics, I would say I was not doing badly for myself, as I strived to do my best not to let my parents down. In a society like ours, our greatest motivation asides self-actualization and development is that of societal acceptance and acknowledgment
We feel when we work hard with good grades, members of the society will reckon with us, have better job opportunities and our parents will endorse and approve us. We become the cynosure of people’s eyes.
Later, I discovered I was always feeling febrile. I ignorantly thought it was malaria from the hordes of mosquitoes in the room where I was staying that were after me (bad belle mosquitoes). Overtime, my health progressively deteriorated and degenerated into night sweats and hot body temperature that could almost cook Nigerian local beans.
I started self-medicating for malaria or typhoid. Over time, my health got worse and I was looking so emaciated. My parents took me to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) for checkup and in the process I was admitted.
After so many scans and tests, the results revealed I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was utterly devastated by this news. I expressed my fears about what was going to happen to my academics, but my doctors told me that what matters first is my health; my life.
Then the thoughts of how to raise funds for my treatment burdened my mind, given my parents impecuniosity. I was scared of the attendant side effects of Chemotherapy as I was being counseled by my doctors.
As weeks passed, my health kept getting worse as there was no funds to commence treatment. My friends, Shobukola Olasupo, Victor Agboola, Akinwunmi Sehinde, Michael Taiwo, Emeka Etiaka, who were my secondary school classmates, heard about my condition and took steps to solicit for funds via the Social Media under the hashtag #Saveniyi.
This strides taken by them sparked different reactions on the Social Media, the effort of these my friends was also corroborated with the support lent by my course mates in the University, Israel Olawunmi, Solaja Oladipupo, Fadahunsi Olumide, Afolabi Ayodeyi and students of Ekiti State University. Consequently, I was able to raise the funds needed for the chemotherapy.
On the day I was to commence Chemo there was mixed reactions from well-wishers, my doctors said I would survive the attendant side effects of the Chemo drugs. Some of which includes weight loss, hair loss, change in complexion and generally killing of every growing cell in the body.
After much deliberation from the medical team, they decided to take the plunge and commence chemotherapy with immediate effect when further tests revealed the cancerous cells had spread to other parts and were at a critical stage.
I could remember being inundated with anxiety having seen people whose body system couldn’t handle chemotherapy. I have seen people with long hairs and thick body turn gorimapa – that is involuntarily going bald and emaciated and some eventually kick the bucket. Although worried, I kept believing that all will be fine.
On D-day, my mother a very strong woman who never left my side all through this period, was there to attend to my needs. I was thinking the chemotherapy would be a kind of machine treatment or surgery, only for me to discover on further enquiry that it involves taking some powerful antibiotics intravenously. I was to keep taking it for a period of not less than eight months.
The first course of the first circle began shortly after. It was just like liquid fire was passing through my veins. I could not really scream. To say the feeling was excruciating would be an utter understatement as the pain was on another level of pain. If my guess is not wrong, that pain knows nothing of this planet. It must be from Mars.
The first course was a success as I endured the pain and the procedure was well tolerated. Then came fear which greeted the medical team hoping the reaction and side effects of the chemo won’t be fatal. They kept running different tests at any slight opportunity they get.
Funny enough, nothing really changed. I was fine and was even adding weight that one of the nurses asked what church i attend. I reluctantly muttered C. A.C ( Christ Apostolic Church, popularly known for war like prayers), noticing the subtle nuances of surprise from her voice – the truth is that I virtually worship in any church that cares to invite me.
That was how it started but I was getting stronger and oftentimes I would travel from Lagos to School in Ekiti to receive chemotherapy and still attend lectures, for months. No doubt my academic grades were ghastly affected during that period as I was absent from school for a long time and as a result I failed most of my year 4 courses.
After completing chemotherapy, I ran various tests and scans which showed that the Cancer was in remission.
In my final year at the University, I sat for some of my outstanding courses and unfortunately I couldn’t go to Law School with my colleagues. This occurrence almost plunged me into depression. I was sad that all these happened beyond my control.
After a few months, as God will have it, there was an opening for a backlog admission in the Law School. I was so excited that I informed my parents about it but my hopes were shattered quickly when my parents told me they could not afford the fees.
I reached out to family members and friends who had promised earlier that whenever Law School admission was open, I should let them know that they would support me with the fees. At this point they were no longer responding to my messages.
When the admission posting came out, I was posted to Yola Campus but I didn’t have any hope of getting my fees and my law dream was fast becoming a mirage. In desperation, I went on Instagram and I was sending mails to different churches and reputable personalities to help out but none showed interest to help.
With little money on me that some of my friends contributed, I left for Yola. With faith since Law School had resumed two weeks earlier, with no idea how I was going to get my School fees. After spending three days on the Road, I finally got to Yola. Immediately I got to Yola, I was informed there was no longer accommodation and I alongside some other students was transferred to Abuja Campus.
MY JOURNEY IN THE LAW SCHOOL
I was able to raise the remaining part of my fees in Abuja Campus after my parents took a loan to support me, with the help of my friends, Tony, Joy, Israel, Joseph (Leftkeys), Dayo, and many others. I also met a lady, Fatimah who also contributed substantially to my fees.
That was how I registered and started lectures after one month of missing classes at the Law School. My friend Israel gave me the basic textbooks I needed to study. Feeding was also one difficult part of law school as we always bought food.
On some occasions I ate twice a day, while on most occasions I ate once a day. Before Externship, The Elevation Church, one of the churches I wrote to, responded to my mail seeking financial assistance and they supported me with money to feed and get some other books I might need. This money sustained me through the Externship period; I bought some other textbooks and statutes books in addition to the one Israel gave me and I spent the rest on feeding and transportation.
During all these periods, my parents were trying to pay back the loan they took so they didn’t send me any money for a very long time. After the externship period and school resumed, I went back to face my arch rival which was hunger. I was able to survive with the help of my close friend, Shupo who always sent me money when he had. Dammy and Ella, my reading partners would get me dinner most of the time.
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The truth is that so many people assisted me one point or the other in Law School that I can’t mention all here. There was hardly a day I won’t read throughout the night and I would still attend lectures. It was pretty overwhelming though. I was determined not to disappoint myself and the people who had invested in me.
I continued this pattern till it was three weeks before the exam when I broke down. I had no choice than to rest because this time I was at my aunt’s place in Niger State and she insisted I rest and do away with books.
Two weeks before the exams I went back to school so I could read with my friends before the exams. My friends sent me money as usual which I deposited at one of the restaurants on campus to pick up food twice a day. One week to exams, I started answering past questions and practicing my drafts. The week of exam came and I wrote most on an empty stomach because I had no cash on me to buy food and the restaurant I deposited money would not open in the morning before the exam time.
Most times I would forget to take my dinner because I was so engrossed in my reading. I remember I made so many mistakes in the first two exams. On the third exam day while writing my favorite course, Corporate Practice, my brain went blank after I answered three questions. I managed to finish up the last questions which was compulsory and carried more marks,.
The next day was the Civil Litigation exam. My body was so weak that I slept all through the night. On the morning of the Civil Litigation exam I practiced all the drafts and went into the exam hall as usual with an empty stomach. Surprisingly, it was one of the courses that went smoothly for me.
After the exam I heard people discussing how tough the exam was, then I began to doubt what I wrote. The following day was the final exam, Professional Ethics and Skills. I went to Mami market and had a very good haircut, discussed with my friends because that was one of the easiest courses but people also fail it often. I practiced my draft and I wrote the exam the next day. It was a smooth one too.
After the exams came the real trauma , I kept thinking about the mistakes I made, and what would happen if I failed. I tore most of my question papers in annoyance. Most times I console myself with the fact that I gave my best and I was not messing around when I was supposed to study.
After six months of writing the exams, the Nigerian Law School released the results and I passed with a Second Class Upper Division. I owe this to God almighty, for the grace to be alive and making all my hard work and efforts count in NLS.
Also, I owe it to my friends and people who have always supported me in all aspects. The lessons I learnt from my ordeal are:
Never to lose hope no matter how bad the situation is because most times the comeback is always better than the setback.
I learnt to always open up when one is going through tough times because you never can say or know who would help; humans are our cloak that covers our nakedness.
More importantly, always trust God, don’t give up on God because he won’t give up on you.