Sunday, September 11, 2011

Survivors All

Dear insansapinas,
In one way or another we consider ourselves survivors, from life threatening disease, from calamities and from seemingly insurmountable personal, financial and career-related problems. 

My friend is a survivor. She had breast cancer five tears ago. So she is already a survivor for five years.
I do not consider myself a survivor yet since it is barely six months when MRI showed  that the liver tumors were "killed" by the alternative treatment used by my team of surgeons. I will be undergoing MRI again for follow-up. Even the doctors can not tell me how many more years are left for me.  As per their experience, the longest time they have recorded for a patient is four years or two years over the cancer life. Liver transplant could add five more years but even  Steve Jobs was not given a guarantee of longer life after the transplant.

Some friends were asking me how come, I did not lose my hair and became a baldie. That's the same question I asked my medical team before I had the procedure. The treatments according to them were  not like the ordinary chemo and radiation therapies which affect other body organs. In this procedure, only the cancerous cells are targetted by the chemo and radiation so that the success rate is higher if the cells are not wide spread in the organ affected.

So far, according to Bibeth Orteza, the wife of Carlos Siguion-Reyna, the son of Armida and a breast cancer survivor, it is only available in Japan. She said that there’s a new treatment in Japan  which targets and burns only the cancer cells. It’s very young, very controversial, but once it becomes mainstream, it would be a blessing to patients. 

Even if this is available in the Philippines, the question is the cost.

My friend had to spend more than two million for rounds of chemotherapy and for the mastectomy as a last resort. There are government hospitals which give chemo services for free but it is on first come-first basis. The celebrities in the article, Melissa de Leon, the sister of Christopher de Leon, Maritoni Fernandez, the niece of Rudy Fernandez, another cancer victim and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, the daughter of Leticia Jimenez-Magsanoc,(sister of the late Inday Badiday)  spent more because they had to travel to the USA for second opinion, surgery and treatment.

At that time she was sick, my friend was having financial difficulties because she was a single bread winner.

Before she had the cancer, she played martyr as a wife who has to keep her family intact despite her problem with a womanizing husband. The husband left her for years to live in with a woman. When he came back, he was sick and had a stroke more than twice, leaving him half-disabled. Her sister was the angel who paid for her and his hospital bills.

After the cancer, she had to accept that her marriage is dead. Her husband packed her bags and asked her to leave their home.

Months after, last month to be exact, her husband died. He asked for her forgiveness before he breathed his last. For my friend, is this the end of her misery. Will she really become a survivor?



Tita Beng said...

Hi Cath! We all are survivors, in one way or another. Didn't know that you once had liver tumor. With God'd grace, you can claim that you are already healed just like what I am doing. I was diagnosed with Breast cancer too, just like Bibeth Orteza, Melissa de Leon, Kara Alikpala and all my other sisters in I Can Serve Foundation. Unlike you, ako eh nakalbo dahil sa chemo. Sa awa ng panginoon, nakaka-19 years na ako since diagnosis. Mahaba at mahirap ang pinagdaanan sa paglaban sa BC pero, faith in God ang pinaghugutan ng lakas!

Ay, haba na pala ng comment ko! Sensya na ha? Nabanggit mo kasi yung about survivorship eh, pati na mga sisters ko s ICS. Kaya hayan tuloy...haba kwento ko! hehe..

O sya, ingat ka dyan insansaAmerika! See you again!

cathy said...

Tita Beng, nakikitita na ako.

Liver cancer. Binigyan ako ng 6 to 18 months.Hindi lang kasi isa, dalawang tumor ang nakita.

Prayers ang pinakambisang treatment ko kasi sabi ng doctor ko, ako lang daw ang pasyente na tumayo na a day after at lumabas 2 days after. Takot sa gastos. hehehe.

They were expecting me to recover from the surgery at least three weeks at sangkatutak ang gamot na ibinigay sa akin for nausea, vomiting and other side effects of chemo and radiation. Di ko nainom kahit isa.

This is my second bout of cancer. The last time was 2007 It registered for several organs that my doctor said that the cancer has metastasized that they could not pinpoint what was the primary. It miraculously disappeared that there was a need not only for second opinion but a third as well. 3 beses akong na MRI. hehehe. Buong katawan ko IniMRI.
I seldom discussed my sickness though when you have a big C, there is a tendency to be depressed. Kagaya niyan, may call ako sa sa hospital na kailangan kong blood test at MRI this month.