When 16-year-old Arnav Krishna arrived home last week, he was greeted by a cheering crowd of nearly 100 people.
Unfortunately, his journey didn't come after achieving his dream of winning an Olympic gold medal in cycling. But the trip followed a training regimen every bit as arduous, and the cheers were every bit as genuine, as a post-Olympic parade. Arnav, who passed away on Friday after a two-year battle against cancer, spent his last week celebrating life with friends and family. A last-minute VIP trip to see the Philadelphia 76ers play the Brooklyn Nets, complete with souvenir shoes and a visit with several of the players. A trip home to swap stories and jokes with friends. Hugs and prayers with his parents, Nitin and Sunita, his twin brother, Dhruv, and his grandparents.
Back in 2016, just after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer that strikes only 400 teenagers annually, Arnav adopted the mantra 'Relentless Positivity' to help him through the tough chemotherapy treatments and difficult surgeries he would need. He and his family would hold these words in their hearts through his long fight.
Arnav was born in Tulsa, graduated from the Swain School, and was currently a junior at Moravian Academy. An excellent student, he regularly achieved Head of School and Dean's List for his academic achievements. He started cycling in 2009, and rose to become ranked #18 on the Junior National circuit, with dreams of competing in the Olympics. His fight against cancer was the subject of feature stories on Philadelphia's CBS 3 news and Alex's Lemonade Stand's website last year.
In a 2017 essay, Arnav wrote that 'cancer has taught me many things. It has taught me to appreciate what I have and enjoy the simple things in life… It has also taught me the value of friendship. Through [my treatments], many of my friends visited me and I had a great time when they would come over. They gave me hope and kept me positive even in the darkest of times.'
Arnav's family truly appreciates the love and support provided by the medical teams at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Lehigh Valley Hospital over the past two years, especially the heroic CHOP doctors who performed the innovative 14-hour surgery in 2016 that attempted to stave off Arnav's cancer while saving his leg.
His life journey was too short, but Arnav’s fight against cancer brought him wisdom beyond his years. 'Cancer has made me grateful for all of life's gifts and has taught me many life lessons that I will never forget,' he wrote last year. 'It has taught me to be positive even in the darkest of times. As Michael Jordan once said, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up, figure out how to climb it.''
Relentless Positivity. A legacy that Arnav's friends and family will carry with them on their own life journey.