LOOK WHAT I FOUND: A letter I wrote for Everyone (2006)

After being diagnosed with leukemia in 2005, I created a blog in 'Xanga' which I intended to use as my online medical journal. I have wanted to write about my experiences, my thoughts and help other leukemia patients and their families by being a source of information and support.

I have failed to make regular posts because I was almost always in the hospital and there was no mobile internet tools yet back then. Somehow, I felt I failed in my objective. Thank you notes and general updates were the most that I could do. I'd rather spend all my time with my family especially my son who's barely a year old then - since I was not guaranteed of a 'tomorrow'.

Anyway, I'd just like to share my old blog entry posted in Xanga/reposted  in  Multiply and Blogspot accts. (June 2006). Here goes:
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Hi everybody!!!

I just turned 23 last XXX…and it’s been 73 days today, after my transplant. Everything seems to be progressively getting better. But just like any other cancer, you’ll just hope for the best. 

Two weeks ago, I went to see my doctor for a check-up. When I came in the room, my doctor told me that she was telling “my story” to the girl/patient that was ahead of me in line. My doctor said, “Sabi ko sa kanya, tingnan mo siya ok naman, pero akala namin noon kung ano na ang mangyayari sa kanya…Haha, eh ikaw kasi, expert na sa mga ganyan, haha…” And to be very honest, it hit me…Wow, role model? Hindi ata bagay…My struggle with leukemia was not very exemplary at isa pa, I was not even a resolute believer. I was about to contest, pero idinaan ko na lang sa tawa.

You see, for most people it somehow appeared that I am a very strong person, fighting with leukemia, never giving up, always ready to cheer up people when they are the ones losing hope…never seeing me break down and cry…the “healthy” physique and smiley attitude might have worked well…..magaling ata ako um-acting…

Most people do not see that there are plenty of times when you have nothing to do to make you pre-occupied, that you are left alone to think of the things that are happening to you…I guess it is but normal to cry, to ask questions, rationalize things, try to plan ahead even if you really can’t and think of the million things that you want to do to make up for the lost times…

So bakit ko sinasabi lahat ito? Not to whine or make others know how miserable my life is right now…Not to make others feel guilty of the lives they’ve been living…It is to make people understand that most people know how it is to ideally attack the situation (ex. getting sick) and expect that that “ideal” reaction would be easy to do…but is sometimes hard to consistently achieve…

I know it would be very difficult for anyone in my situation to get through with everything simply…But in my case, I am very grateful that I have most if not all of the things that I need to pass this ordeal…From the biggest to even the smallest and the simplest things that has been done, given and thought of for me……Thank you…

There will never be enough thanks to my family, relatives, friends, acquaintances, friends of my parents, brothers and sister, friends of my friends, nuns & priests and even strangers I sat with somewhere out there who wished me well and said that there’s always sunshine after the rain.

It is hard but getting this far means a great deal…and I know that I am not completely strong and hopeful enough to make it without all the other strong and hopeful people around me…The love, support and encouragement you’ve been giving is very overwhelming…

Thank you…

Thank you for the second life …
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Drama much? LOL. I hope I can be an inspiration to other leukemia and cancer patients. There's hope. Never give in.


Hugs,

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THE BATTLE OF THE CORNED TUNAS

This IS one very very late post. I completely forgot I have a file saved somewhere. Shucks.
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I have been meaning to make this post since the very first time I saw Derek Ramsey's Century Corned tuna TV commercial. I thought San Marino must be doing well in terms of market sales considering that they were first to introduce the 'corned tuna' concept in the Philippine market - and that Century had to keep up with it.

San Marino Corned Tuna TVC

Century Tuna TVC

So finally last Sunday morning about two weeks ago, I opened two cans of corned tuna - one San Marino and one Century - and put them to a taste test.



There's 7 of us having breakfast then. Without telling them which is which, I asked them which tastes better.
(L) Century and (R) San Marino

My nephew was first to say that he likes the taste of the less oily and sauteed-tasting one. (the one on the left, which is Century Tuna) I totally agree. I think it was only my mom who said that she preferred the more oily one - "Gusto ko kasi yung mamasa-masa sa rice, easier to chew for me" quoting her. When we're done eating, we voted 6-1 in favor of Century Tuna. (I am now wondering if our taste buds already developed some affinity with the Century brand, since we literally grew up with it or it just tastes better than the other brand.)

San Marino corned tuna also tasted good  but somehow gave a fishy aftertaste. Century Tuna on the other hand smelled fishy once I opened the can (but do not taste fishy/"malansa" - probably with the help of the onion and garlic bits). I also recalled that the San Marino TVC mentioned of having less oil compared to the other brand but apparently, it's not. (see pictures above)

Here's a comparison of their ingredients and nutrition information:

CENTURY CORNED TUNA                 
Tuna Flakes, Soy Protein Concentrate,         
Water, Soya Oil, Onion, Minced Garlic,        
Spices and Seasonings                                 

SAN MARINO CORNED TUNA
Tuna Flakes, Soy Protein Concentrate,
Soya Oil, Thickener, Sugar, Iodized Salt
and Seasonings


Nutrition Information:
Serving Size, 56g
Servings per container, about 3
(per 56g serving size)
                              CENTURY                         SAN MARINO
Energy                       60kcal                                60kcal
Fat                            3g                                      3g
Trans Fat                    0g                                      0g
Sodium                      250mg                                360mg
Carbohydrate             2g                                      2g
Protein                      6g                                      6g

The sodium content caught my attention. Hmm, I'd honestly prefer the one with less sodium content considering my health condition.

I guess you'd better try comparing both too so you'll know the difference. After all, taste varies from person to person. =)


Note: This is an unpaid advertisement. I just got the kick being a big fan of canned tunas. (LOL)




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Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

 

The recent onslaught of typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) became a wake-up call to the Filipinos especially those who were directly affected. The aftermath is clear evidence of the vast changes in our global environment. Although there are natural factors and processes that contribute to the world’s changing climate, we cannot dispel the fact that a lot of human activities have altered the atmosphere’s makeup particularly in terms of the greenhouse effect.

Global warming (and cooling) and climate change have a significant impact to the way we live life and to our environment. If we fail to act now, there will be further harm not only to our natural resources but also to our own being. Living in this world will be very different for our children and future generations if we ignore the very obvious signs that nature is already giving back to us the damage we have caused it.

It is never too late to make a difference. It is now more than ever that we need to take a revolution for the environment. We have been well educated with ways to care for the environment – even my son in preschool knows a thing or two. But what we need is ACTION.

A great platform from our May 2010 presidential aspirants should include means and policies that are geared towards environmental protection and sustainable development. Our government leaders should instigate the people to a positive social change that can save the future of the environment.

Sustainable design in the architecture and interior design field is not a new thing. There are even institutions that encourage and recognize the efforts of design professionals in finding sound design solutions to create a healthy and sustainable living environment.

As an interior designer, I strive to use sustainable materials, eco-friendly and energy efficient equipments and incorporate plants and trees in the projects I do. Perhaps other professions can also find ways where they can reduce the impact of their work to the ecology.

We never have to be someone with great power to do something. I am taking part of this Blog Action Day because I believe that if I want greater accountability from others then I would have to start being more accountable myself. To be able to make things better, we have to be good role models to engender response.





Postscript: To read Blog Action day posts by other Filipino bloggers, Bloggers Kapihan made a round-up of the contributions.


THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT OF BLOOD


 
My brother undergoes stem cell apheresis

 
This is the blood bag of stem cells extracted from him ready to be transplanted to me.
I now have a deeper appreciation to the life-giving properties of blood.



I am living a renewed life for more than 3 years now because of the gift of blood by my eldest brother. If you'll ask me at what point in my life did I feel the most gratitude towards God, life, my family, friends and medical personnel, it would be on my Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant Day last March 3, 2006.

Surviving leukemia made me thankful to -
God for a new lease of life,
my parents who are my cheerleaders and financial supporters,
my eldest brother kuya Fidel, my stem cell donor,
my two other brothers and sister, who have patiently watched over me day in & day out,
my partner Mike, for his unwavering love and patience ,
my son Wei, the top reason why the battle is worth fighting for,
my doctors, for their expertise and genuine concern,
my friends for always reminding me that there's sunshine after the rain
the strangers who do not know me but nevertheless wished me well
and all the rest who have touched my life.

Thankfulness is something we can feel from even the simplest act of kindness. It is up to us to see and value it. How about you - what are you thankful for?

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I am taking part of the National Thank You Day Celebration sponsored by my favorite chocolate brand Toblerone. Please support me in spreading the "Sweetness of Gratitude"!
Check out their site for more details: Toblerone & The National Thank You Day.

10/20/09 Shameless plugging: I would like to ask you to vote for my entry if you think I deserve the prize. =)
Here's the link to my photo competition entry.




Pre-Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

Exactly three days from now, bloggers from all over the world become one by posting about the same issue on the same day. This year's Blog Action Day will be about Climate Change. The event aims to raise awareness and spark action across all borders.














The series of unfortunate events that hit our country now is great evidence of the effect of climate change in our lives. By asking hundreds of different minds through their blogs to express their viewpoints, we take the topic to many different perspectives - thus creating a catalyst for sustainable solutions to our concerns.

Take part. Share and Spread and the word!






Skepticism, Kindness and more...

Photo from Flickerhappy

I was at the House of Representatives earlier to attend a healing session and mass officiated by Fr. Fernando Suarez. As part of the HOR Week celebration, the Congressional Spouses Foundation (CSFI) invited the healing priest over. The south lobby was lined with chairs and an altar was set-up. Some congressmen like Speaker Nograles, and their spouses were present as well as the house employees and their families.

The organizers asked the attendees to stick-on color-coded cards (where we're also asked to write on our ailments/concerns). Color coding was based on the gravity of the ailment. I was given a red card which was the color assigned to the gravely ill and cancer patients. Technically, I am neither a cancer patient nor gravely ill. I was - then. But friends and organizers (who were privy to my condition) insisted that I get the red card - and so I did.

Red card holders were supposed to sit in front, especially since most were wheelchair-bound. I was too shy to seat in front so I stayed with my sister and her friends at the back. We only approached the front row when the healing session was about to begin. The space in front was too packed and we have no more chair to sit on. But since I was instructed to come in front, I had no choice but to squeeze in.

Only then did I notice that I was standing beside Cong. Teddy Boy Locsin of Makati. He was sitting on a wheelchair beside his wife. Apparently, they took notice of my red card and they were concerned of me just standing. Cong. Locsin even offered his wheelchair to me - an act I found very gentlemanly despite his stature and 'whatever his condition was then'. His wife was too concerned that she gave her chair to me (the staff were quick to replace the chair anyway). I thanked them a couple of times for their very kind deed.

I was touched by Fr. Suarez a few times. Once while seated and more than three times while standing - before I finally fell like a log. I woke up a few minutes after, not knowing what actually happened. I just felt cold and light-headed, my body became stiff and then I fell down.

Am I healed? If the healing is physical, then I don't know yet. I am sure that there are many others in that lobby who has greater faith than me but did not fall down. The old lady sitting on the wheelchair was able to walk after Fr. Suarez touched and prayed for her yet she did not fall down.

Is my being skeptical taking the best of my faith? I don't think so. I may not feel that I am healed physically right there and then but I know, that I was moved by the faith of the people around me. That I was touched by the goodwill that the people showed towards me. I believe those were enough to heal my soul.



 OT: Jokes were going around - Fr. Suarez should have said mass inside the session hall, and healed the spirits of our distinguished congressmen. I honestly feel he should have...really.


Helping In The Way That I Can

I barely slept last night. Still worried that my partner isn't home yet, I can't relax. We were watching TV the whole night, texting friends and family - checking on them.

We planned to go to our relatives' houses that are already accessible and help. My dad, sister and I bought some grocery items, packed them and delivered them. We saw how much damage Ondoy made to their homes and properties. It is very heartbreaking.


 
Shots taken by my cousins from Marikina



Shots taken by my cousin from Paranaque
 Outside the Provident Villages via N78

When we got home, I was relieved to see my partner there - showered and fresh, yet full of mini-bruises and scratches. He hugged me and our son tight, and told us that he never thought that the extent of the damage caused by Ondoy was that much until he started walking along Marcos Highway.

He recounted what he went through since the early morning of Saturday. He even saw our high school classmate with her sister and dad walking along the road. When they exchanged greetings, our classmate told him that her mom died from panic attack (I will still verify the exact cause of death) when the water started to rise in their home. It was only the day after that they were able to take her mom's body out of the house, with the help of friends and relatives.

That night while having dinner, I felt a deeper appreciation for what I have and from what I have been spared of. I pray that God bless us all and that He give us strength and faith to help us through this adversity.


Edited: September 30, 2009 - We went to the wake of our classmate's mom earlier. Though it wasn't a good time to have a reunion, I am happy to see our friends safe from harm.


THE TYPHOON THAT WAS ONDOY

Photo reposted from this site

We're supposed to have a family meeting early today at Bonifacio High Street, Taguig. My sister and I left our house early considering it is a weekend - there's traffic and it is raining hard. Little did we know that the pouring rain would eventually stop us from reaching our destination.

The flood started to rise in Elliptical Road while we're passing by. We had to take a turn at Kalayaan Avenue (we'll leave our car and ride on our brother's SUV because of the flood that we might encounter) only to be told by the bystanders that it is already unpassable to light vehicles. Our car took another round at the Elliptical to take a turn at East Avenue. By then, dad called us and asked us to come home as the meeting was cancelled already.

My sister and I were praying hard and out loud as we passed high floodwaters along Commonwealth Avenue. We were checking the flooring if the flood has seeped in the car already. It felt like we were riding a boat. We tried every possible route to be able to reach home but all were flooded already. Luckily, we found high ground where we could park. There’s a secluded restaurant there also – a big relief for us who haven’t eaten breakfast and lunch yet.

It was also a good thing that there's electricity in that area. The restaurant have their television on so we're able to watch the news. We also have our Globe Tattoo with us so we're able to read and share updates online. My dad was so funny, he's call us to tell us to save our phones' battery charge, but would repeat every so often that we had to remind him that "we're trying to save battery dad".

It took us more than 10 hours to reach home. Our parents were relieved to finally see us. My partner is still stranded in Cainta, Rizal as of this writing but is in a safe place now home. My son hugged me tight and said, “Nag-aalala na ako sa’yo mommy!” (“I am so worried about you mommy!”) Being home never felt this safe.


Edited on September 28, 2009


CANCER IS SO LIMITED

 Cancer is so limited –
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life and
It cannot conquer the spirit.

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I saw this posted on the wall in a doctor’s clinic. Instantly, I felt a flood of memories coming to me. This is the fourth year since I got diagnosed with cancer – cancer of the blood, which is more commonly known as leukemia. 
Being sickly since childhood, my memories of doctors, hospitals, needles and medicine are very vivid. And it has become more apparent, that despite my being unable to become a medical doctor (a childhood dream – yet choosing a different path) that I am still destined to be in the hospital, but as a patient. 
I know how hard and disheartening it can get, but I am sure that God has reasons for giving me cancer. I have realized that in many ways. For one, I am just thankful that my son is healthy and safe – I am sick and not him. Having cancer made me a better person. I became more appreciative for even the smallest things. I got to enjoy life more. I found out that I have rock-solid courage. And the list goes on… If I didn’t get sick, I would probably have a very different life from what I have now. Yet, I have no regrets…

Note: Photo from this site 



REMEMBERING THIS DAY FOUR YEARS AGO


Photo from this site

It was this day on 2005 when I have decided to have my blood tested (CBC and Blood Chemistry) in preparation for a medical checkup before I resume school in June. From the usual one to four hours of wait for the results, I got mine about 3 days after. I remember the anxiety that we felt when the hospital staff refused to release the results without explaining why and what happened.

I was eager to find out why that I have decided to go to another hospital for a repeat exam. I got my results an hour after but it revealed under and over-normal range results. It gave us an idea then, that it is probably why the other hospital I went to won't give me my results right away.

We tried to find information about the results - scouring books and the internet. Though we had initial suspicions based on what we read and heard about, we have decided not to dwell on speculations. We may be wrong and misinformed after all. And so I waited for my doctor's appointment.

I grew up dealing problems with my urinary system. It is the main reason why I was egged on by my parents to once and for all visit my nephrologist for an intensive study. I was a pre-teen since my last intensive work-up (excluding frequent hospitalizations which were passed on as viral infections).

And so I met with my nephrologist. My kidney concerns were set aside as I have to be referred to a hematologist having a clinic a few rooms away. The hema, read my lab results and asked me to be scheduled for a Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy immediately the morning after.

I came in early, about 7am the following day with my mom and sister. The procedure was painful despite the local anesthesia given and was over an hour after. My doctor then asked us to take different samples to different laboratories. I can't remember exactly how much but I am sure we spent more than Php20,000 for everything.

My doctor asked us to meet her at the clinic the same afternoon to talk about her assessment. When we got there, I was nervous yet ready to hear just about anything. I felt that waiting for the CBC results earlier was more distressing than this one and so I thought, "Bring it on!"

She had to tell us straight and matter-of-factually what everything was all about. She said that after her years of experience, she is positive that I have leukemia. As to the specific type, she has yet to confirm based on the histopathology results. She told me there's no known definite cause, that there are treatments available and what to expect if I undergo that procedure. My doctor recommended that I receive chemotherapy right away as she suspects that I have the acute kind.

I remember myself not crying - at least at first. Everything was a blur and so surreal. I can only see my mom and sister sitting across trying to hold their tears. I think let a few drops fall but after that I knew I had to stop. I had to keep a strong front for my family and loved ones.

I started chemotherapy a week after and the rest was history. My life had a complete turn-around --- thank God for my family, friends and faith --- they lead me to where I am now.



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