In the early hours of Tuesday 16 May 2023, my beloved sister, Kehinde Ilesanmi, passed away. She was 37 years old.
Kenny, as we fondly called her, was a vivacious, strong, kind, beautiful, lively, ambitious, hardworking woman with the most beautiful smile she freely bestowed on all around her. She was the big Auntie to all her nephews and nieces, they all adored her to the moon and back. She was an Auntie as well as a best friend to my son, they were inseparable.
Kehinde was undoubtedly the most entrepreneurial of us all. She was a consummate buisness woman, a professional insurance broker, and last year she launched her christian book, KAIROS.
This time last year, this young woman who was preparing to step into a brighter future in her profession with brand new juicy opportunities, was out of the blue, diagnosed with a rare kind of stage 4 Sarcoma cancer. It was a shock to us all and none of us was prepared for the havoc this horrible disease would go on to wreak. In the blink of an eye, the cancer took over both her lungs, leaving her dependent on oxygen mask to breathe.
I remember frantically trying to get an emergency transit visa to Nigeria as my Nigerian passport had expired. I rushed down to Nigeria to be by her side.
On arrival, I was informed by the doctors that my sister had two weeks to live.
Kenny was a strong woman and she definitely wasn’t going to go down without a fight. So, she started the tortuous journey of chemotherapy.
She was a dedicated Christian and she held on to her faith to the end. With her determination and the love and support of her family, she was able to beat the predicted end date ( an end date she was not aware of as we decided to keep this info from her).
Soon after she started chemo, she gradually started gaining her life back. She was so strong. Her strenght and determination was amazing. I remember one day after another round of tough love and motivational prep talk from me, she smilingly asked me how i even think to come up so fast with the come back quips to any reluctance she has to do a task and asked why i havent published a motivational book yet as I’ve got a way with words. Kenny, maybe one day, I would do that just for you.
Two months later as I was leaving to go back to the UK , Kenny was also finally leaving the hospital, now able to breathe on her own without total dependence on oxygen mask and was able to ditch the wheel chair and moved to her new home on her own two feet.
The first round of chemotherapy helped stall the growth and spread of the cancer tumour in her lungs and we saw great improvement in her quality of life. She even surprised a friend when she showed up at her wedding looking gorgeous as ever. When she sent me a video of her at the wedding, I remember screaming with joy, and I will forever hold on to that happiness.
Unfortunately, the second round of chemo was not so successful. It was difficult watching her go through all that pain, and the many other complications of cancer.
On Tuesady 16 May.2023, one year after she was given 2 weeks to live, her fight came to an end. Her battle is over, her pain is over and she is now at peace.
I am consoled knowing the pain is over for her. The pain of losing a loved one is for the living to bear, not the dead. One cannot be fully prepared for the pain of losing a loved one even if one knew it was coming. The pain still pierces through the heart leaving indelible mark.
My sister lives on in my heart as the beautiful, ambitious, entrepreneurial, strong woman she was. I am extremely grateful for all the beautiful memories we made together.
Kehinde mi, Akehinde gbegbon
She was a twin. Below is the Yoruba Oriki Ibeji ( praise poem of twins)
Sun re. Rest in perfect peace, my beloved sister.