How Cancer Loses: Blog Feature

Friday, January 25, 2013 Stef dela Cruz 0 Comments

About a week ago, Cecile Jaleco generously shared her story about her only child’s fight with leukemia with this blogger. Despite having already faced the challenge of a lifetime, Cecile’s troubles were far from over: she herself was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Husband-supports-wife-and-daughter-with-cancerCecile Jaleco, a cancer warrior, draws strength from her family during the biggest battle of – and for – her life.

“I didn’t even bother to ask the stage. Why should I? I’ve been there when my daughter had cancer. The pain is familiar,” she said.

“Eventually, I found out it was Stage IV. It’s the worst stage you can get if you have cancer,” she confessed. “According to statistics, I had about four to six months to live.”

“Initially, the doctor told me not to go abroad for my training because it was necessary to start chemotherapy immediately. But later on, my doctor told me to go ahead and leave for Vietnam,” she narrated. “Was it because I was dying and they wanted me to enjoy what remained of my life?”

“I didn’t even bother to ask the stage. Why should I? I’ve been there when my daughter had cancer. The pain is familiar.”

At the time, Cecile hadn’t figured out how to pay for her chemotherapy. “Every tablet of the chemo drug I had to take costs PhP4,000 and I had to take one tablet a day!” That meant spending a whopping PhP120,000 a month. If only money grew on trees.

Initially, Cecile didn’t want to fight cancer anymore. It was too expensive, too exhausting, and almost too futile. She had started to accept the possibility of death. She was comfortable with the idea of dying. Death, to her, was a familiar friend. They’ve shaken hands before and she was ready.

But Carmella, a cancer warrior and Cecile’s only daughter, convinced her to think twice. “Mom, I had to fight leukemia for you. Can’t you fight lung cancer for me?” she asked.

And it was all Carmella had to say to make Cecile want to win the battle against lung cancer. Bring it on!

Blogged: Cecile’s Miracle

Cecile’s miracle came initially in the form of a simple approval. After she applied for a clinical study, her application was approved and she became one of the study subjects.

That meant she didn’t have to pay for a single pill. All her chemotherapy drugs and lab tests would be shouldered by the research team.

Cecile is still undergoing treatment. But her most recent lung CT scan revealed no tumor. That big tumor the size of a fist that appeared out of nowhere in her lung was completely gone.

It was like waking out of a nightmare. All her other organs were cancer-free, too. She knew that if she hadn’t been approved as a study participant, she might not have been able to afford treatment. And that was her “unique miracle”.

“I am blessed to have a strong daughter who fought leukemia with all she’s got. I am grateful for my husband. He looked after my daughter before – and now, he looks after me,” Cecile said.

Jaleco-family-battles-cancerThe Jaleco Family. To them, cancer is “no match”.

Cecile’s battle isn’t over. She has to deal with the side effects of her chemotherapy and the many other “dramas” of her day-to-day life. One thing is for sure: her life reads like a telenovela! 

Bloggers, Are You Fighting Cancer?

Just like any other drama series you get to watch on TV, Cecile’s and Carmella’s stories will touch you. They will change you. And if I did a remotely good job as a blogger, their stories will make you want to do a breast self-exam. They will make you wonder if you can actually quit smoking. They will make you ask, “How far can I go to make sure I protect myself and my family from cancer?”

Go ahead, start asking. Start now. Don’t wait for cancer to knock on your door first.

Share this article with every other person in your life whom you think needs to eat healthier, sleep better, or live a better life. Yes, the ten seconds you spend sharing this story just might save ten years of your loved one’s life. Yes, it’s worth it. You see, whether or not you have cancer, it’s a battle you have to fight. Cancer, after all, is everybody’s battle.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!