Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I was sitting there in the lobby, waiting for the oncologist to arrive. I already filled up a profile form and left it with the secretary. She said she will call me as soon as the doctor arrives. I took stock of the many patients sitting on the long row of chairs against the wall facing the doctor's room. There was a little girl, looking pale and listless. Leukemia. I smiled sadly at the mother and she smiled sadly back. There was a man sitting right beside me. He was fiddling with his cellphone, trying all the ringtones and it grated on my nerves. I looked at his face and saw the empty stare, and I saw his hand holding the cell phone shaking. I turned away quickly, I couldn't bear the look of resignation on the man's face. It was like looking at his naked soul and I thought I was violating his privacy. An old woman wearing a hat and a gauze mask was talking to the man beside her. She obviously has been having chemo treatments and has lost her hair judging from the way she was holding her hat anchored to her head. As if she was afraid it will fall off and reveal the damage that cancer has wreaked on her appearance. I heard her saying how damnable it is that she has to depend upon the goodwill of her family to do things for her. I sympathized with her. I hate having my sister or my daughter washing my clothes for me, or preparing my meals or carrying heavy things for me. Too many people afflicted with cancer judging by the number of them waiting for the oncologist. I looked down at my clasped hands, not wanting to see anymore. Kids, old people, men or women. Cancer does not discriminate. It takes who and all it wants and play with their lives with impunity.
"Ms. Darl", I heard the secretary calling me."The doctor is here and he will see you now." I came slowly to my feet and walked like the damned entering the execution chamber.
The chair was a bright tangerine. I was wearing a summer dress of the exact same color. I will get lost in that chair, I thought inanely. The doctor was talking to someone on the phone and motioned me to sit down without looking up. I sat gingerly on the edge of the chair. I thought to myself that maybe when the doctor finally looks up, he won't find me because I have merged with his tangerine chair.
"Your doctor has called me and has already explained your condition to me." The doctor's deep voice broke into my crazy thoughts.
"Yes," I replied. "He said he would." The oncologist is my doctor's personal friend.
Without preamble, I added. "Did he tell you I can't afford the treatment?"
"We will discuss that after I have checked you up."
The doctor led me to the examination room. I was embarrassed that I bled when he was examining the lump. The doctor left me in private to clean up and get back into my clothes. He stared at me somberly when I walked back into his office.
"Darl, I have been a doctor for a long time, and judging by the feel and look of that lump, it's already 8cm.
It was 3.8 by 4 by 1.5cm in my last sonogram. So it has grown to twice it's size in one month. I was almost choking with the horror of it. I had to clear my throat before I could voice out the thoughts running through my mind.
"You mean it has grown so fast in the last month, is that possible?" That was a stupid question . Of course it was possible. It already did, the doctor just told me. And of course when I look in the mirror, I can see that it's bigger than it was. But I was not thinking in terms of centimeters, more like in terms of life and death. I look at myself and I ask how much time I have to find the money for the treatment before the cancer gets worse and unmanageable.
"You need to start your chemotherapy as soon as possible. You are in stage 3, and you need that lump to get smaller through chemotherapy before your surgeon can perform a mastectomy. He can't do that now because the lump will leave a large hole in your chest, and he can't close you up properly."
"So what am I facing financially, Doctor?"
"You want to make the cost as manageable as possible. Your doctor told me you don't have medical insurance. Cancer treatment is very costly. But there are ways to reduce the cost of some of the treatments. Like your chemotherapy. You need 6 sessions at the very least, 3 before the surgery, and another 3 after the surgery. I recommend radiotherapy for 30 days after the chemo sessions. Now here's the plan. I listened to the doctor attentively.
He laid out a treatment plan for me and by the time we were through, we have decided that I am going to be treated as an outpatient and not as an inpatient. It will cut down the hospital cost by a very big percentage and he is giving me a big discount from his professional fee. He was able to bring the price down to PhP 20,000.00 per session. He warned me that the mastectomy will be expensive at a conservative estimate of PhP250,000.00. That is not inclusive of my doctor's professional fee, But my doctor, who will also be my surgeon has promised me that he will be charging me a very minimal fee. Then I need to have 30 sessions of radiation therapy estimated at PhP 75,000.00 for 30 days session. He said cobalt is cheaper at half that price, but he wouldn't recommend it because it has more side effects. He always recommends linear radiation because it has less side effects.
"So, shall I make an appointment for you on Wednesday?" the doctor asked.
"No, doctor, not yet. That's a lot of money we are talking about and I don't have it ready. I still have to find some ways to come up with almost half a million pesos to make my treatment possible.
I left the hospital with a heavy heart. When I got home, I cried and cried, and after I recovered from a bout of self-pity, I prayed and meditated on the love of God and His Word. I calmed down and told the family I am not going to have them get buried in debt so that I can have my treatment. I told them I will try to get assistance from local agencies and I searched the internet for them. But the requirements disqualify me outright. I am an Australian government's pensioner which means I have an income. so I am not a class D citizen. Of course I think that's unfair because my pension is just enough for my house rental, basic necessities and some minor medical expenses. Cancer treatment is very expensive and my pension won't stretch that far. I wrote to the Australian Government to inquire if I can get some medical assistance from them. They wrote back that as I am residing in the Philippines, they cannot give me any assistance. Unless I am in Australia which will make me a gold card holder and my cancer treatment will be covered by that. I keep getting blank walls and have resigned myself to not getting my treatments.
But after my quiet time with God,and much prayer, I finally got back on track. I remembered what a counselor said to me in church the previous Sunday. She said I have to live my life one day at a time. and God will bring forth His blessings to me as I need them.
The chemo treatment cost is lower than the price I was quoted with initially, and somehow, I know that we can swing the cost of that.I trust that God will do His best for me.
Despite my trust in God, I still have some depressing moments, and the doctor said it's normal for cancer patients. I know God does not hold that against me. But right now, everything is looking up. I worried about not getting the chemotherapy, and now I know it might just be possible. Actually, I started worrying about the surgery already, but the family told me that is not right because I worried about the chemo,too. God will solve the surgery when it's time.
I am more hopeful now. Many people in the Philippines die of cancer because treatment is unaffordable. But I am a child of God, and I know that my help comes from Him. I need to remember that and not give in to fear and depression. To pray without ceasing. And to put my unequivocal trust in Him, the Lord of lords, the King of kings.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I just finished some tests at the hospital, I was beat, fed up and hungry. I look at my family who all went with me to give me their support. There's Ma, my sister Thess, JB and Baby Stephie. They all look as tired and hungry as I was. Well, except for the 8 month old Stephie who was still gurgling and turning and twisting in her mother's arm. We all filed into the car, a rented Mitsubishi Adventure, and instructed the driver to drive us to the mall so we can have dinner. We got stuck in the traffic for almost an hour and as I looked around at all the cars at full stop in the heart of Makati, I wondered about the people behind the tinted glasses reflecting the bright lights of the commercial center.
What are those people thinking about? Are they well? Are they tired and hungry? What kind of family waits for them at home? Do they know God? And if they do, do they trust Him? Do they value the right things? Are they taking their lives, their health for granted?
I remember before I got sick. I was so busy living my life, I concentrated on the non-essentials thinking that they are the most important things then. I forgot the things that would have fed my soul, the things that could have made me more able to face what I'm facing now.
But nobody regrets anything before the fact. Regrets always come in the end.
Ma'am, shall I drop you at the front entrance and pick you up there after your dinner?" Joel, the driver took me out of my reverie.
"Park the car somewhere and here's some money so you can have your dinner, too. We will text you when we are ready to leave." So we got off the car and looked for somewhere to eat. At the entrance to the supermarket, we met Mitch, my niece, just out from work and ready for dinner, too. She suggested a place and we all tiredly followed her. We placed our orders, and as we waited to be served, I looked amazed at all those people scrambling to be seated and served, too. Why are these people eating here, I thought to myself. Don't they have someone, maybe a wife, a mother waiting to serve them hot, home-cooked meals as soon as they get home? How sad could that be, if all these people are going home to an empty, dark house after a hard day's work.
"Mommy, your food is getting cold.", Jaybee called my attention to my food. I looked around the table and it seemed to me that everyone's food is getting cold, too. No appetite in spite of being hungry. Maybe my news that the sono-mammogram showed some suspicious mass in the other breast has made everyone too sad to eat heartily. I told them to eat up and sadly watched as my family started eating in a desultory manner, as if the expensive food tasted like sawdust. We ended up taking home all the uneaten food and making Mitch keep them in her fridge in case she wanted to eat later.
As for us, we went home to Pagsanjan after we dropped Mitch at her condo.It was almost midnight by the time we got there and everyone went straight to bed.
I stayed awake. Too tired, but sleep was impossible. My mind was teeming with so many things. In the quiet of night, I can feel God's presence. I prayed for myself, I prayed for my family and friends. And I prayed that all those seemingly lost people in the mall will somehow be found, as God found me again. I was lost, but he found me and brought me back. They should have the time and the desire to listen for God's voice as they have their quiet time in the mornings and early evenings, or see God's wonder in nature, or just see God's mighty hand restraining the evil that would otherwise overcome our frail world.
I have never appreciated God being in control of everything as I do now. There is nothing like knowing that when you are in the process of crossing a bridge over dark troubled waters, you are sure that it's strong and will hold your weight. Now I don't have to pretend I am strong and confident every minute of the day. It's so refreshing to be able to let go and let God. Surrendering to God is not a sign of weakness, as I see it. It's an opportunity to be sustained, restored. for he is our shelter and our refuge.
Don't stay too long in the fast lane. Don't wait for illness to stop you in your tracks before you find the time to smell the roses, or hear God's soft voice. You can mostly hear God in the stillness, so take a break and spend time with Him. Learn to see and hear Him in the world around you. Learn to take pleasure in God's awesome presence . It takes a real desire and discipline to have quiet times with God.And there's nothing more beautiful, more inspiring, more reassuring than having God in your life.
What does it feel like to stare Death on the face, it's there, not quite crossing the line, but biding its time, ready to sink its fangs in you if you dare to make a
wrong move? Not a pleasant feeling, take it from me. So, while you circle each other, each of you trying to outwit the other, what goes on in your mind?
Me? I think about the what ifs. I think about all the things I should have done and never did. I think about that scholarship at a Berlin University that I let slip off my fingers. I regret not letting Steve take me to Canada 3 years ago. I regret not taking that modeling job in a fashion house in LA when I was 21. I regret not taking that missionary job in Kazakhstan, or the chance to go to school to study Graphics and Website Designing. So many regrets.
But this is not the end. Death can stand or walk around as much as it wants. I'm not giving up. I keep asking God to give me some more years and to make my life different from what it was. I want more adventures, more time to grow up spiritually, and I will badger him until He gets fed up with me and say: "Okay, I'm so tired of your whining, here's another 20 years, put it to good use. Now give me some peace and quiet!" LOL
You think God has no sense of humour? You are mistaken if you think that. God is not some stiff, unsmiling deity who sends lightnings and thunder if you dare to joke around Him. How do I know that? Because I have experienced His humour many times in my life. Like when someone was stealing Macapuno from our backyard. We always pray to God to protect as from thieves, and we tell Him we do not think of Him as our security guard, rather the All-seeing One and our Protector. So one day, someone
climbed up our macapuno tree, and someone gave out a shout to warn us, so we went out fast to catch the thief, and he was still up there. I was able to call the police while he was up there all that time, vigorously denying that he was stealing. We told him to come down and talk like a man, but he just got stuck there unable to come down until the police came and apprehended him. Now, isn't that funny? Everyone was laughing at the thief who had to be rescued by the police like a cat stuck on a
tree. Who was keeping him stuck on top of that tree if it was not God? He is a big man, that thief, and the tree was not that high. If he can climb up there, there's no reason why he can't come down.
Or that time when it was midnight and I was hungry because I missed dinner. When I checked in the kitchen, I found out there was no bread left, and there's only chocolate chip cookies in a jar. I can't touch that, it's loaded with sugar. So I muttered " God, I need some food, I'm so hungry." A few more minutes and there was a knock , I could hear my eldest brother calling out, he lives next door. I opened my door and called out to my brother. "You are late home", I said. He was holding a paper bag. Food, it has the logo of a popular fast food chain. He had a late business meeting, and he was hungry and bought burger and fries on his way home. Hah! Answered prayer. " Can I have some?" He had eaten up the burger, but not the fries and I'm welcome to have that. I thanked my brother and shut the door and brought the fries to the kitchen. I was grumbling, God, I said I was really hungry, my brother could have eaten the fries and left me the burger. And I could almost hear God saying " I thought you said you were on a diet?"
Yes, God is a good God, a sacred God. But Jesus walked the earth. Lived like a man, was a popular guest in both sumptuous and humble gatherings. He understands man's needs for some laughs. But don't think you can try unwholesome jokes with Him. You might just get the lightnings and thunder.
So, as I said, I can feel death stalking me. Am I bothered? Nope. Life is good, I am back to my old footing with Jesus, my Brother, my Friend. He walks with me, I tell Him my fears, talk about my many dreams, and badger Him to heal me. I know he laughs at some of the things I tell him, commiserates with my fears and worries. But I can sense the Godship strongly. That Godship is what keeps me going. I know that because
after I made my peace with Him, I can feel less pain, I can feel hope burning in my heart, and I feel the peace that passes all understanding. That can only come from God.
I was at the hospital yesterday, it was so tiring getting poked with cold metal and getting your breast sandwiched between 2 hard objects so they can take x-rays of the lump. My breast was bleeding by the time the mammogram/sonogram was over. The lump is getting bigger, it's now 3.8 X 4 X 1.2 cm from 3.6 cm. The sonogram test detected suspicious lumps in the right breast although they are not apparent from just touching and checking. The sonogram showed them though.
I still have to pass my cardio test before the doctor will start the chemo therapy. The earliest slot available for my 2D Echo test is on March 18. The Heart Station has a full schedule and can't accommodate me earlier than that. I couldn't insist that I should be moved to an earlier date because of my condition. Who knows, those in the earlier slots could be more seriously sicker than me. Meanwhile, I get well meaning emails from friends suggesting this and that natural treatment with the intention of sparing me the horrors of chemotherapy. I can understand their concern, I am very concerned, too. So while awaiting the final test before the chemo, I am trying some of them.
By reaching stage 3, I was told that my survival rate of 5 years has lowered down to less than that. But God gives, and He takes away, so I don't pay attention to all that predictions. God can raise the dead, heal the sick, nothing is impossible with Him. I am keeping my hopes up, but I am also making use of the time in "the wilderness". Right now, I am spiritually alone with God, deprived of my "worldly crutches", totally dependent on Him for survival. At first I was rebellious, I
questioned God why He had to let this happen to me when I have tried to live a good life- I was always ready to help those in need, always striving to be morally upright, has served in His church since I was student, was careful not to step on other people's toes, was kind to animals. But God keeps silent.
It is in the silence that I have come to look back and hear what my own heart was saying. I have drifted apart from Him. My disillusionment, my frustrations, they have slowly driven me away. But I have justified that in my mind. I have every reason to keep away because people were using the name of God for their own nefarious purposes. My long time friends and church mates have shunned me because I dared to speak up and tell the truth. Then I started to be busy with my own personal life. And I told myself who cares, I still have God in my life even though I'm not
in His church anymore.
But that is not what He wants. He wants me back in church, where I can grow spiritually, learn patience, learn to forgive. He wants me to retain my individuality, rejoice in it, and make use of it in serving Him. He wants me to experience again the joy of being with His people as they gather together to worship Him.
The second week after I have learned I have cancer, my eldest sister dragged me to church. The series they were studying was about the end times. Very fitting, I told myself. The end is near for me. But when the worship team started singing praises, I stood there, remembering the times I was part of the team, remembering how good it is to worship God, the joy of being a part of one great body of believers. And I started crying, cleansing tears, and then I felt that I have come home.
Does that solve my problems? Am I healed? Do I have money for my treatment and surgery? No, but it's all in God's hands now. For sure, I am more at peace with myself and my God. When I meditate during my quiet times, I can hear God saying "don't fret my child, I am with you". That reassures me. He will never forsake me. I don't know if He is walking with me towards my recovery, I don't know if He has come to fetch me home and making me ready. All I know is that He is with me and that is
enough to make me trust Him to do his best for me.
Why am I writing something as morbid as my illness? Some people ask me this, some people have encouraged me to do so. But personally, I am writing my battle with breast cancer because it is not just fight for survival but also a spiritual journey for me.
Life is so busy that there are times when you lose track of what's really important in life. We make choices that aren't always right, we try to shuffle our priorities and make mistakes, and we neglect what we shouldn't.Our attention gets caught up in a myriad of non-essentials and we get so bogged down with them we don't notice that other more important things we should be doing are left on the wayside, neglected,
When I am on my own, I reflect upon all the things I should have done before I got sick. I realized too late I shouldn't have retired from teaching Sunday School, or ministering to the youth. I know I am greatly gifted in that ministry, I should know after doing it since I was 19 and way into the 1990's.But I somehow got tired and withdrawn from it all, burned out and disillusioned with some so-called church leaders.
I think about the many times I have been so busy preparing my family's future I have forgotten to sit down with God and talk to Him about how I am doing, or ask for His counsel. I merrily went on my own thinking that I am so good I can handle everything on my own. Steve has to remind me to go to church because I'm so caught up with other things. If I'm not on fast forward running family matters, I'm on full stop pining for Steve or just too dissatisfied about how things are progressing and just wanting to get off from this world.
So, cancer has made me slow down,gave me the chance to look around and check what else is going on aside from what I consider my concerns.It has driven me down on my knees before God, gave us the chance to be together and talking again about the most important things in my life. My faith, first and foremost. I have forgotten how peaceful it is to sit and meditate about how good God has been to me over the past years. I remembered the time I was born again when I was still a student. How zealous I was to share the news of salvation. How I was serving Him so diligently. And it was with sorrow that I looked back and realized how I had let some rotten eggs in church who professed to be Christians and behaved like they are not, to cloud my sense of reason. Of course, the enemy will do anything to undermine a Christian's faith even if it means planting his henchmen inside God's very own church. I have let my disillusionment to drive me away from my ministry.
I know that God will heal me. I don't feel like I'm dying. What I feel is a process of restoration. I feel like someone who has been sleeping for so long, and now it's time to wake up and pick up where I left off, the right spot, the one assigned
I have humbled myself before Him. Thinking that I can accomplish great things on my own is self-pride. Being sick has made me face up the truth, that I am Nothing
The last few nights, when everyone was asleep. I would lay on my bed wide awake trying to listen to what God is saying. The previous nights, I have been doing the talking, telling Him about my heartaches, asking Him a lot of questions, and asking Him to see me through this situation and show me His will that I may carry them out.
It isn't always easy to have a conversation with God. Sometimes you have so many things to say that you forget to listen to His answers. Other times, the enemy is whispering utter nonsense into your ears and distracts you from what God is trying to say to you. So it's really important to keep your focus so that you won't miss the other half of the conversation, the important part, God's part.
God is a wise God, He sees everything that is going on. So in my case, He sometimes comes and visit me in my dreams. Maybe He thinks that it's better to talk to me when I'm unconscious. You may laugh, but for someone like me, who tries to dissect every piece of conversation and find loopholes in every statement, you may want to talk to me, too, when I'm unconscious.:).
So last night, I dreamed that I was walking with Jesus on a grassy area, I was like a child, skipping, and running and then turning back to say something to my companion. I was telling Jesus that I have been away for a long time and if He still likes me now that I'm back. He smiled kindly at me, didn't say anything at all, but the warmth in His eyes told me what I wanted to hear.
Like any other dream, I was thrown into another scene. I was in bed, wide awake. The dream was a bit hazy, like an old sepia film. I saw myself checking the lump on my breast, and how surprise I was to see the lump like an empty, clear plastic bag, nothing inside, just air. I touched it, felt it, and there really was nothing there, And then I woke up.
I know there is a message of hope in those two dreams. God doesn't want to kill me, He wants me to live and enjoy the life of a woman who is totally dependent on Him, a life free of fears and worries, a life that is confident of His everlasting love.
I admit I have been distracted with trying to survive the day to day struggle in this fallen world of ours. I get tension headaches just trying to stretch my budget to the limit. I just hate going to the supermarket and watching my wallet emptying fast when I can't even see my shopping bag filling up. I panic when my granddaughter's milk formula runs out after 4 days and my pension isn't in my bank account yet. I get desperate when I don't have enough to buy my mom's medicines because it's imperative that she doesn't miss a single dosage. She is a cancer survivor herself, has a heart condition, her left eye had a lens implant but the other one is almost totally blind. Her other ear is totally deaf. But that's to be expected. After what she went through from colon cancer, and at age 82 now, it's amazing that she is still alive. Another one of God's miracles.
So the way I see it, God is trying to tell me something today. In fact, he is telling me so many things. The clearest one is I need to slow down and take things easy. Of course with breast cancer at stage 3, I definitely have to slow down because cancer tires you out a lot. Second, He is telling me that I can get better and live better after recovering from this.Third, He is telling me that there are people who care about me and want to see me live longer. Friends I have known for almost a lifetime, friends I have known as an adult, friends I have met online and haven't seen face to face, but most of all, I have a friend in Jesus. Fourth, God has given me the chance to value my relationships more. Instead of missing conversation pieces because I go into a brown study trying to figure out where to get money for all our needs, I try to listen more attentively, realize that I'm not the only one with problems here, or that I can have a few laughs to lighten my load when I listen to my quick-witted daughter, or my granddaughter trying to learn new words.
God wants me to take time to smell the roses. He wants me to enjoy life and not waste it trying to solve world problems. He would be happy to see me trying to work out the problems in just my small community so I can have free time to take walks with Him and have some heart to heart conversations. He had a strange way of making me stop, cancer. But I'm stubborn woman, so He is justified in knocking me down so I will stop and listen. But the funny thing is I'm not offended. God will see me through this and I will emerge from this situation a better woman. And with lessons learned.
Good Morning, World! Life is good, live it. God is good, live in Him.
I have all my family sleeping in the same bedroom the first night after it was confirmed that I have breast cancer. Stage 3.
I lay there with them in the dim room, wide awake, trying to get some sleep after the harrowing day. I finally gave up and got up and walked around where there is some space left on the floor and watched the dear faces in repose. Everyone's asleep except JB and Camille.
There's my 82 year old mom on the sofa by the window. She took the news as if it was nothing unusual and sleeping now like a baby. My daughter Jaybee said she's either in a state of denial or she is too old and her mind is no longer able to understand what is going on. Whatever it is, I'm just hoping that her own mind is protecting her from all of these.
Cita and her husband lay side by side. Tired out from the trip they took to check out a real estate property somewhere in the mountains with a client.
Thess is snoring softly beside Mitch, who missed work today to hover over me when the doctor read the results of my biopsy. Thess is so tired after running my errands, cooking for the family and generally doing ordinary tasks that everyone had forgotten to do. Of all of them, Thess, my eldest sister and my second mom is the one sacrificing a great part of herself to see me through this.
Jaybee and Camille each have their Notebooks open and like me, couldn't sleep. The three girls, Mitch,Camille and JB were with me when the doctor called. They were the first ones to cry, the first ones to hear it confirmed that I have breast cancer.
Camille has a bad cold, so maybe that is what is keeping her awake. I looked at my daughter Jaybee, the child of my heart. She's doing facebook and I thought she was bearing up well, until I saw her face, eyes red rimmed and swollen from a bout of crying, staring blankly at the screen.
And so I sat there, watching everyone, trying to gauge the extent of their pain in hearing the bad news. Some more than the other, I'm sure. Even baby Stephie did not fall asleep until after midnight. And that is after I cuddled her and sang her to sleep. She can't figure out why Mamita won't hold her close anymore, why she can't horseplay with her like she used to.
Earlier, Steve and I talked about my condition, we both cried over it. The usually strong man who never allows me to think negative thoughts, nor allows me to buckle under pressure sounded on the edge of desperation. Between the miles from here to Canada, I can sense the bitter taste of despair in his words. He tried to cheer me up, encouraged me to believe that I will survive like all the other women who did, and then ended up saying that I must try to overcome this because he will die if he
loses me. He talked about selling the house, he filed for an early retirement, he was making plans left and right that are out of place from the already ironed out plans we have for our future. I had to ask him to slow down and not make hasty decisions we will regret later.
Cancer is a horrible disease. It tries to kill not only you, but all the people who love you as well. Not physically, but emotionally. I don't know how we will all face the next few months. I promise myself I will not let anything to sway me from my faith. I don't deserve this, no one does. But anything that happens in this world was allowed by God for a reason. And that reason is for our own profit.
I have my family to pray with me. I have friends all over the world praying for me now in their churches. If two or three are gathered together in His name, then God is there in the midst of them. So, there's no reason why God shouldn't hear my request to help me get well for myself and for my family.
My doctor got the result of my core biopsy. I called him today and he gave me the news. It confirmed what I feared the most, It's cancer. There's no easy way of saying it. It's on advance stage, so there's no help for it but chemotherapy, then mastectomy.
While the tests were being done, I kept up the hope that it would turn out to be benign, that this is a mistake and the doctor will say what I wanted to hear. But some things just never happen the way you want them to.
So once again I asked God, "Why me?" As usual, I don't hear the replies.I cried some more. I cried for me, I cried for the family, I cried for Steve, I cried for the cost of the treatment. I know I still have the rest of my life after the mastectomy. I have the best doctors in Makati Med, but I also know that it's going to put everyone's life in chaos while I'm having my treatment. I'm not going to be able to shoulder the expense on my own, but knowing my family, each one will pitch in to keep me alive. Will they think it's worth it? Have I done the best by them that they will think no price is too high to keep me alive? How about me? Do I think it's worth it to make my family go through the wringer emotionally and financially in my desire to get better?
For someone trying to escape death like me, there will always be questions that won't get any clear answers. I have to live each day as they come, hoping that I am making the right choices for everyone concerned.
And what about me and God? I want to sit down with him and ask Him to explain why He had let this happen to me. I want to ask him to speak to me in terms I would understand, not in parables, not in poetry or prophecy. Just plain English or Filipino.
My niece,Mitch said that a Christian's life is riddled with problems because they refine our faith. She said further that if you claim to be a christian and your life is smooth sailing through and through, you better sit up and ask if you really are a child of God. So what does that make me, my life has been a long series of trials and tribulations, and now this, does that make me His favorite daughter?
You think I am now rebelling against God? I am not. I still love Him and rest my life in Him. Whatever He is saying to me right now, I can't hear it. But I know He is beside me, giving me comfort, making me strong. After all this is over, I will see His will clearly and I will be thankful that He didn't let go when I was in my weakest moment.
I still have a long way to go - more testing because of my heart condition, chemotherapy, surgery, more testing and then maybe full recovery. Nothing has any guarantee for now. Except God is with me. He is my only guarantee and the only one I need.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Dear God, I feel so empty, so tired. Sometimes, I ask myself if you are really there watching over us. The recent calamity brought by Typhoon Ondoy has made me ask questions I wouldn't have otherwise asked. Why do we try so much to do good when all it brings is heartache and the seeming inevitable end that is full of pain and destruction? Give me a sign and show me that you are still in control, and everything that is happening does really have a purpose.
Ondoy and Pepeng have driven home the fact that life is something that could be snuffed out in the blink of an eye. If many personalities have realized in this destructive event the need to give of themselves and come to the aid of the less fortunate, it has brought such a dreadful sadness and a shattering feeling of inadequacy to my soul. A black, massive hole of nothingness stares me in the face, and it keeps me awake at night with the appalled realization that I have nothing left to give except bitter tears of helplessness.
In all the years that I have believed in you, that I lived my life for you, I have never doubted you. I tried so much to walk your path. But I’m only a flawed vessel, like a jar with too many cracks. No matter how much I tried to fill myself with your goodness and mercy, they sipped through the cracks, leaving me still half empty. Maybe it’s my fault. I have strived too hard for perfection and maybe my failure to achieve it has blindsided me to the real reason why I am here. I no longer know what you want. Confusion has settled in.
You know I have had calamities on a personal level, one after the other. I know that trials and tribulations are part of this life. But now I ask if I wouldn’t have emptied myself if I learned how to take and not just give. If I learned how to say NO more often, if I had learned to love myself more and not gave away all the love I had in my heart. Maybe I should have been more realistic and shouldn’t have allowed disappointments to throw me off balance. So many maybes, so many questions. But the one question that won’t stop nagging me is WHY?
Why do I feel this emptiness, this sorrow? Are you trying to tell me something? Why am I still here? Why have you allowed certain things to happen? Why can’t you be more specific about what you want from me?
I’m being impertinent trying to ask you such questions. I know exactly why these things happen. We create our own problems, and we get uptight when the solution eludes us. It’s just so hard to accept that we are killing our own world. It’s just so sad………
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into the here.
Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.
What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.
Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.
What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand strok’d it as I went by.
What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than any one knows.
Whence that three-corner’d smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.
Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.
Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into bonds and bands.
Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs’ wings.
How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.
But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.
Written by: George Macdonald
Sunday, February 22, 2009
You cannot choose your family, but you can choose your friends. I have heard many lamenting that fact. And why not? The family can be a cauldron of intrigue, jealousy, unresolved issues and horrible secrets. Tell me that there is one family you know that doesn’t have a skeleton in the closet, and I will call you a liar. Is there ever a family reunion that won’t rake up old, unresolved issues, or where no one will remember or talk about past mistakes, or where one won’t feel that he is greater or worse than another? Admittedly, the family is the most complicated unit of society, and yet, it is the strongest foundation, too. I am not an expert, but I think the deterioration of the family unit contributes a lot in the deterioration of our society as a whole.
I have always treasured my own family. It’s not the best there is, but it’s the only one I’ve got. There are family members I can live with for the rest of my life. But there are others whom I will be satisfied to see only once a year. Maybe they feel that way about me, too. After all, I’m not the perfect sister, aunt, cousin or niece. I can be moody; I can shut up like a clam and be in my own secret world, oblivious to the partying family members around me. Not that I’m autistic, mind.:) It’s just that sometimes, I feel tired of interacting and being careful not to trigger off some past hurt or unresolved issues that might cause anyone pain. But get me on my soapbox, and I can shoot down anyone who contradicts. A family reunion is a minefield. I sometimes think I can only take it in small doses.
And yet, when a crisis happens, it is the family that is always there first to help you pick up the pieces. I have been through one a couple of days ago. I was expecting negative repercussions, dreading the remonstrations and the barrage of accusations. Instead, I got commiseration, emotional support and offers of practical help. All of that has helped me to cope better and enclosed me in a protective cocoon of warmth. My family gave me an opportunity to look at the problem in a better light, made me more able to cope with it because of the new and better perspective.
I read somewhere that it’s good to have friends instead of family because you can take them or leave them. Because you have chosen them and do not have a history that will get in the way of the relationship. Because you can joke and be lighthearted with them and be with them because you like to and not out of a sense of obligation.
I beg to disagree on a personal level. My family, as I said is not the ideal family. But it’s the one I can count on when everybody else has given up. I sometimes complain that some family members should behave better. I sometimes get to a point when I want to disown them. But in times like this, I thank God for my family. They are there for me when I really need them.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It’s 2:30am. I have been trying to sleep, but I find my bed so unfriendly, so unwilling to bring me the peace and quiet that only sleep can possibly give me. I don’t know, I was feeling okay earlier, although I had a headache. I took a couple of Excedrin to kill the pain and expected to sleep to complete the process of getting over it. But I lay awake, and as usual, my brain went into overdrive.
I thought about how awful this world has become, how hard it is to survive on a day to day basis. I thought about how I hate to see my brothers and sisters getting deeply into debt just to give their families what they need to live with a little dignity. I thought about JB and Mitch, too young to experience such hardships in life. I thought about Steve and me, spending over two years apart, barely surviving the loneliness and pain of the separation. I thought about how scary it is to go out, how stressing to always be on the alert in case the person next to you is a mugger.
I am angry about the injustices that I see around me. Angry that so many people have come to disregard the value of human life. I am angry that we have become calloused and no longer horrified about the evil that’s happening around us. It grieves me that the poor are suffering too much that they don’t give a second thought about begging and stealing in order to survive. I break my heart when I hear about the unscrupulous preying on the weaknesses of others to take advantage and to better themselves. I hate hearing the politicians talking about their programs for the poor now that the election is almost here. I hate knowing that after the elections, none of their promises will be kept.
Sometimes, I ask myself if the world is upside down. Like nothing seems to be right or normal, so it couldn’t be right side up. Why are the wicked ones prospering, and the righteous suffering? The world is on a straight path to destruction, and there’s no way of stopping it. Why do we try so hard to do good, seeing that it doesn’t make any difference? I get confused about my purpose in life. I get confused about the commandment of loving your enemy. Who is my enemy, the thief, the murderer, the corrupt politician, the adulterer, the liar? Why should I waste my time on those losers when I can do better doing good to my fellow believers, when we can uplift each other and make our sojourn in this world a bit more bearable until it’s time to leave?
Maybe the quietness or the darkness of the night is making me lose my perspective. Or making things look bigger than they actually are. Maybe the morning light will push away the depressing images passing through my mind. One thing is sure though. Now is not the time to give up on the faith. I know that if I let go of the principles I believe in, the foundation of what I have become since I was born again, then all is lost for me.
Maybe I do not understand at times. Maybe I can’t find a reason for all the things that are happening around us. I have so many questions, but nobody is giving me the right answers, so maybe I am asking the wrong questions. Maybe I am looking at the situation from the wrong angle. Maybe, and then maybe not.
I’m going back to bed in a few minutes, whether to think some more, or to finally sleep, remains to be seen. Hey, maybe the light of a new day will give me a better perspective, a more hopeful attitude, and a renewed perseverance to do what is right and honorable despite the current trend. The trick maybe is not to look down, but to look up. Heaven always offers a better view.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Mitch, eat your heart out. My Adobe CS3 loads really fast. My Daz Studio too, even if it has too many runtimes. I don't know about POSER yet, I still have to install it. But I'm quite content with taking it easy for now with Daz.But, darn, I really do need my bed, I think.My head is throbbing and my throat hurts.
Awww... I need my bed. I don't feel too good.