Little Bumps

I don’t know if it’s proper to ask God for anything specific anymore with regards to my illness. I feel like bargaining with Him would equal non-acceptance and once again trying to take control of the situation.

Before this, I prayed, Lord, please let it be benign. That did not happen. But that was a long shot anyway.

This time around, I’m not sure if asking for the treatment to just be radiation would be pushing it again. Or maybe my prayer should be, Lord, please prescribe me the best possible yet least painful treatment. Maybe.

I can’t fully describe the state I’m in right now. I’m okay but I still find myself in random fits of tears. I am trying my very best to accept but at the back of my mind, a tiny voice is asking, Why this again? What is it you want me to learn, Lord?

Lesson #1, definitely: Honor your father and your mother and you will have a blessed life. My parents keep telling me to lessen my sugar intake, sleep at the right time, and exercise. I did lessen my sugar intake considerably. I found it hard to sleep at the right time especially with all my responsibilities; but I made sure to always get at least 7.5 (usually 9 hours) rest, regardless of the time. Exercise? I’m pretty sure running from cabin to galley at light speed while defying gravity counts for something. I should stop lying to myself.

I don’t know where I’m at right now but I’m taking it one step at a time. Like what the ortho-onco said today, “There will always be little bumps along the way to overcome with cancer patients. We just have to address them and move on. That’s it.”

My God and I have fought this before. My God and I will fight it again. After all, what’s the point of training a warrior princess and arming her with the Word, if it will not be tested in the battlefield.

This is when true faith begins. Increase where I decrease, Lord.

Metastasis

I have found a new vocabulary word to dislike. Basically because once you encounter it, it immediately instills fear in your heart. In my case, upon reading the word on my recent MRI result, my initial reaction was irritation. Irritation because it sounded so conclusive yet, at the same time, vague, since it was preceded by the word “may”.

Continue reading “Metastasis”

Life Update 050515

Cross-posted from Facebook:

2014 MRI: “Anterior mediastinal mass, showing decrease in size and volume (2.16 x 1.26 cm, previously 2.88 x 1.39 cm).”

Present MRI: “Follow-up now shows no demonstrable mass lesions particular in the anterior mediastinum.”

Read by the same doctor 3 years in a row.

When I visited my rad-onco today, he couldn’t see it on the plates either, but said he would check the scans on the computer later on just to make sure. Ayaw maniwala na wala na talaga?! LOL!

You know what I think that is, though? GOD’S HAND IN THE SITUATION. Thank you so much for all of your prayers! Hindi magiging ganyan yan if it weren’t for our teamwork. 🙂 5 years na, guise. “Considered clear ka na,” says my doctor. (Though kailangan pa rin ng annual check-up to monitor.)

Thank You, Father. Sigh. Alam mo na laman ng puso’t isipan ko and I can only grow deeper in love with you each day. <3

What a month this is turning out to be. Happy birthday!

Just wanted to share the good news with you. I know some of you here have witnessed my illness-related drama and have, at one point, prayed for me. Thank you so much for doing so!

Here’s to more wanderings, I guess? 🙂 Hope all of you are well. 🙂

#BigCFiles: May 29, 2010

Was looking for an old concert video when I stumbled upon this entry I wrote when I was undergoing treatment.

I went to the hospital today for my scheduled chemo session. Had my blood tested first and results came back showing my WBC at 2.8. My doctor computed it and for the first time ever, I was not allowed to have my chemo. o_o

Oookay. So I cried. Tears of joy, I think. o_o

During lunch, I told my mom about how I think I’ve developed a certain anxiety. I noticed that I start feeling a tiny bit nauseous on the morning of my scheduled sessions. I guess it’s because I already visualize how I’m going to end up vomiting at the end of the day (wow, good job, Ms. Psych Major). But either way, it’s not doing me any good.

I started going on a crying spree awhile ago after my mom told me to hang on because she doesn’t know where she was going to get her strength from once I myself lose hope.

It’s not that I’m losing hope, though. I’m just tired. Although all the effects are just temporary (nausea, three days; mouth sores, two days; hair loss stopping right after chemo), iba eh… I don’t know how to psych myself up pre-chemo anymore. Before, I’m all, “(n) down, (n) to go!” But when it went up to 10 sessions, although I just added 4 more, I couldn’t remove the post-chemo effects from my head anymore. I hate the feeling of nausea. I hate throwing up (although it feels really satisfying afterward). I hate being cooped up and not getting the chance to function like a normal person.

I’m complaining but I’m not complaining, if you get what I mean. I hate all these things but on the other hand, I’m thankful because only those side effects mentioned above happen to me. I know some people who have gone through worse. Like all throughout their treatment they would experience splitting headaches and unbearable chest pains. And they’d lose their sense of taste. I’ve never experienced pain. And I still have hair. Just that it’s thinner now compared to before. And I get to enjoy all the foods I take in.

I’m also thankful because despite everything, I’m being given the chance to turn a year older (in a few days — I am VERY thankful for that so I’ve been broadcasting like mad, haha). Only a few weeks to go and I’ll be fully functional again (robot?!).

Ooh, did you see that? Bipolar me just became positive again. Haha.

I think my doctor sensed my anxiety because awhile ago, he shared how he was investing all his energy on the study of gene therapy because he wanted to forego chemotherapy altogether. He said he knows what chemo does to his patients — it messes with them not only physically but emotionally and psychology — and if he had the choice, he’d rather not let his patients (or anyone at all) go through it ‘cause it personally breaks his heart (that was such a GMH moment). He said things like, “It’s easier said than done” — how when people say, “Cheer up, it will be over before you know it.” But you don’t really know what a chemo patient goes through. I personally can’t “cheer up” in a snap especially when I feel like I want to hurl the whole world out. I can’t just heal myself by overdosing on Vitamin C like when I get the flu or something. It’s not that easy and it’s not that predictable. I know, some people are just trying to be positive but like what my doctor said, it’s really easier said than done (although I really do appreciate the encouragement and try to apply the things I’ve learned in the three years of my life that I’ve wasted, haha).

Anyhooz, after all that, my doctor stood up, leaned over, patted me on the shoulder and told me to hold on because for now, this was the only way I could be healed.

Hummmmms.

I cried tears of joy because at least I wouldn’t have to experience nausea on my birthday ALTHOUGH my schedule would be pushed back even further. I do my 8th on Tuesday then my 9th on the 19th. The other good news is, I’ll be having it at PGH where my doctor said there were La-Z-Boys. Awesome. *_*

So no stress on my birthday, but 6K more than usual (because of my low white blood cell count). There’s always a bright side to every dark side and vice versa. Ho-hum. Hopefully anxiety won’t kick in as much then. Happy Birthday to me.

5 years later, blessed to report that I’m still here. Having my MRI on Friday. Fifth and final year! FIFTH AND FINAL YEAR! Please pray for me, you guise. Thank you! God bless all y’allz!

P.S. Grabe, ang drama ng past life ko. Hahahuhu.

“It is finished.”

Last month, I was tasked to reflect on the sixth word of the Seven Last Words of Jesus for one of our Singles Nights. Sharing with you now what I shared with them. Have a blessed Friday!

 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. – John 19:30

 I would first like to share this beautiful reflection I read in relation to this passage.

When Jesus said “It is finished,” surely he was expressing relief that his suffering was over. “It is finished” meant, in part, “This is finally done!” … Peterson captures the full sense of the verb in The Message: “It’s done . . . complete.” Jesus had accomplished his mission. He had announced and inaugurated the kingdom of God. He had revealed the love and grace of God. And he had embodied that love and grace by dying for the sin of the world, thus opening up the way for all to live under the reign of God. 

Because Jesus finished his work of salvation, you and I don’t need to add to it. In fact, we can’t. He accomplished what we never could, taking our sin upon himself and giving us his life in return. Jesus finished that for which he had been sent, and we are the beneficiaries of his unique effort. Because of what he finished, you and I are never “finished.” We have hope for this life and for the next. We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love. One day, what God has begun in us will also be finished, by his grace. Until that day, we live in the confidence of Jesus’ cry of victory: “It is finished!”

“Because of what he finished, you and I are never ‘finished’. We have hope for this life and for the next.”

Sometimes, whenever we are burdened with trials, we tend to question God. Why did this have to happen to me, Lord? What have I done wrong? Have I not been faithful to you?

At one point in my life, I had found myself asking these very same questions. I had just graduated from college and was ready to take on the world, when I was diagnosed with cancer.

I took things in stride at the beginning. I knew I was going to come out of this alive because God had always been good to me and my family. My belief in Him and myself was enough to make me optimistic about the future. So I went with the motions; went on with the treatment.

Halfway through, when I thought I was going to be done with treatment already, my doctor said I needed four more chemotherapy sessions. I was already ready to give up then, on my fifth cycle, the supposedly second to the last one. I had somewhat fallen into depression that time ‘cause I felt like everyone else was moving on with their lives, while I and my family were still doing our best to fight for mine. And I couldn’t understand why I had to go through it in the first place. I lived a relatively healthier lifestyle compared to my college friends. I went to mass every Sunday and served in church with my parents. I always tried to do what I was told. So what exactly did I do to deserve that?

God wasn’t slow in answering my question. It was also Lent that time and I was instantly reminded of all the hardships Jesus had to go through in proclaiming the kingdom of God. It was then I thought, “Wow, Jesus had to go through all THAT and he was already the Son of God. Parang ang kapal yata ng mukha ko mag-complain, wala naman sa kalingkingan ng suffering Niya yung suffering ko.”

Source: hartlandumc.org
Source: hartlandumc.org

Suffice it to say, I felt better. That time also, my friend had sent me the quote from Jeremiah 11:29: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Surely, the fact that I was going through all that and was still kept alive, meant that God still needed me on earth; that he still had plans to prosper me, give me hope and a future. I didn’t really understand anything then, so I just laid everything down and believed.

It was only when I found my purpose and Serviam that I finally began to understand. He needed me to go through that hardship to strengthen me. He needed to allow that event to happen so I would find the motivation to look for the tools I would need to equip me to become the servant leader and faithful proclaimer he wants me to be. Admittedly, my faith back then wasn’t as strong. Despite my coming from a Catholic school, my knowledge of him was superficial. Back then, I regarded God as one who punished people for their wrongdoings. Thus, my questions. Now, I know that he only allows these oppressions to happen to help us learn from our mistakes and come out even better than before.

I’m blessed to be here and declare that I’ve been in remission for 4 years now and, with God’s grace, am starting to build the future he allowed me to hope for. It has not been one without trials; but since God allowed me to go through the greatest hurdle so far, everything now, I just take in stride. I, and my prayer army composed of my family and friends, just lift it all up to him (while I, of course, still do my best). There have already been countless incidences where I have said, “It is finished.”

Like Jesus, we also have to go through many trials and beatings as we go on proclaiming God’s mighty name. Although these trials may seem unsurpassable at first, we should all remember that God will never lead us where his grace could not keep us. Ultimately, every roadblock we face brings us a step closer to Him and his perfect plan. As the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” To that, I add, if it does kill you, never fear, for that means your mission here on earth is complete, and a better, happier life with God is waiting in store for you. By then, we too, would be able to say, “It is finished. I am finished. I am done… complete.”

Sunday Thoughts: Gratitude

Yesterday’s gospel & homily focused on GRATITUDE. I wanted to write a reflection about it but didn’t really know how to start without sounding redundant or all over the place. I haven’t been feeling exceptionally grateful the past few weeks, either, despite the many, many things I am continually blessed with. I don’t know. I guess there have just been so many isolated cases of oppression being thrown at me lately. And just as I was about to lose all hope, here comes God to the rescue. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So I woke up this morning with a dark cloud over my head (and not just because it was raining outside). Keywords: email, hypocrisy, engagement. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet when these keywords said GOOD MORNING to me. Seriously. Lesson learned: do not check your email and/or social networking sites so early in the morning.

Things just kept getting better as the day progressed. /sarcasm To the point, in fact, that I had found myself crying out of frustration while listening to Julianne’s song. All my attempts at cheering myself up only lasted a while and my morale was running dangerously low .

I kid you not, this really happened. I got THE CALL I was waiting for while I was playing Ikaw Lang for the nth time. The call I have been waiting for TWO. FREAKIN. WEEKS.

Sad tears turned to happy tears.

And then. AND. THEN. My best friend tweeted this:

Youch. That was a huge slap on the face. Like God was telling me, “Hey! Did I not tell you to trust in me? I haven’t  forgotten. Have you?”

Oh, man, I’m crying again.

Thank You, Lord, for the reminder. I’m sorry if I haven’t exactly been a great example of your never failing love. I know you let me live for a reason. Thank You for reminding me of my purpose and for pulling me right back up, just as I was about to give up. I asked for You to get me back on track and You did. I am not worthy, Lord, but You always show me that I am. Thank You! THANK YOU! My words aren’t enough but THANK YOU! Thank You, as well, for sending the people You have sent to keep me positive and alive to this very day. I pray that You would help me continuously grow in Your love. ♥

Lesson on gratitude? Check.

Thanks for reading this! As a sign of my gratitude, here’s an embarrassing video of me singing Julianne’s Grateful back in 2007 — when I was still awkward and inexperienced performing-wise. LOL. But it’s my favorite song; one that always reminds me to be, well, grateful. 🙂

Perspective

Before anything else, let me just say that I’m still trying to get my blogging mojo back. So if this entry ends up all soupy, please forgive me.

———

On our way home from worship last Tuesday, dad updated me on the current status of our fellow community member and his battle against cancer. He had just found out that night that tito was actually diagnosed with colon cancer and that he had undergone the normal chemo regimen. He’s been fine for months now. “He didn’t need radiation anymore,” dad said, and we went on to discuss my treatment and how it had played out longer than expected.

Quick summary: Originally, my treatment was just supposed to be 6 chemo cycles. When I went for a CT scan on the 6th, things had already changed considerably, but not enough to be cleared; so we went on for 4 more. After the 10th, I had another scan done and nothing had changed. My onco told me he could either a) change my regimen or b) refer me for radiation. We went with B and 3 years and 40 radiation therapy sessions after, here I am, alive and well. 🙂

Anyway, that conversation of ours made me realize a couple things. (Introverted Psych major — can there be a more lethal combo?)

First off, that I had the best doctors ever. Second, that for a survivor, I’m doing a pretty crap job at taking care of myself and living life to the fullest. Third, and most important of all, that I have been acting like a total ditz lately.

So yeah, I realized I’ve been bitching about so many things lately. So many TRIVIAL things, now that I think about it. I’ve asked God so many times already why He has kept me on hold for this long. But then when I stop and reflect on it, hasn’t He already tested my patience and perseverance once? And hadn’t I succeeded? What’s so different this time around? That I’m not sick? That I know I can now take matters into my own hands, since I’m not anymore hanging on for dear life? Hashtag self-burn.

I guess my greatest takeaway here is PERSPECTIVE. Right now, everything’s going fine and dandy, except for maybe two aspects of my life. I don’t really know why I’m complaining — well, actually, yeah I do: I want to become a well-functioning member of society and be the independent woman I claim to be. On the other hand, I have all this time on my hands to work on creative projects and improve myself and chizz. All that, while still getting to eat three full meals a day (and not worrying about having my hard-earned money turn into Koko Krunch).

As human beings, we tend to focus on things that get in the way of us having “the perfect life”. Thus, making us glaze over the million other things that are going right. I’m complaining right now about having to wait for what I want, but if God hadn’t taught me to wait 3 years ago, would I still even be here worrying about this? And hasn’t He already proven so many times in the past that the trials that come my way are all for my benefit?

Perspective. GRATITUDE and perspective. Be thankful for what you have now, appreciate the life you lead, and take things in stride. Be patient and always look on the bright side. Instead of focusing on the trivial problems, focus on the bigger picture. #NotesToSelf

This song played on my iPod immediately after I had experienced something unfortunate the other day. Sharing it with you. Indeed, the answers to life’s questions take time. Things may not be clear now, but they will be soon. 🙂

P.S. Sorry for being so soupy. Hope you’re all doing well!