Mother and Daughter Fight Cancer

Monday, January 21, 2013 Stef dela Cruz 3 Comments

A few days ago, Cecile Jaleco started sharing the story of how her only child, Carmella, was diagnosed with leukemia. Cecile said that her daughter’s battle against cancer taught her a valuable lesson in humility. “We needed blood transfusions for Carmella. It was humbling to see people from all walks of life – priests, carpenters, nuns – come to us to donate blood,” she shared.

“Even more humbling was the fact that money became an issue. Even our medical insurance ran out! My husband and I lived a comfortable life, but suddenly, our earnings just weren’t enough anymore,” Cecile admitted.

Cecile battles lung cancer

“I had to go to Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and get funding the hard way. I’d go there early in the morning and stand in line, waiting for my turn.” She paused, thinking out loud, “As a mom, I would have done anything for my daughter!”

“Eventually, we had to transfer to a government hospital. It was a humbling experience indeed,” she recalled.

Carmella was confined for 59 days. It was 59 days of not knowing what happens next, of wondering what happens to the only child God has blessed Cecile with. Imagine being a mother to a wonderful daughter, one who came to you as a miracle. What do you do if you found out she had to battle cancer at such an early age?

Already, Cecile’s hands were full. But her problems were far from over.

Carmella Survives Cancer

During Carmella’s fight against cancer, many of Cecile’s friends came to help. “My work friends had to chip in PhP500 each to help me out. I accepted their donations humbly; I was in no position to say no to something that would help my daughter,” Cecile recalled. “I accepted their kindness willingly, thinking that someday, it will be my turn to give back. And that is now my vocation.”

Cecile now gives a percentage of her monthly earnings to people in need of financial assistance, especially to children diagnosed with cancer.

Carmella is currently on remission. She is cancer-free and has been for four years. Carmella – strong, young, and optimistic – survived leukemia! But an unpleasant surprise lay in wait for her mother.

Last October 2011, Cecile was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Cecile Fights The Battle, Too

“My miracle was different,” Cecile explained to me as she started to tell me her own battle against cancer. But I don’t want to jump the gun, so let me start from the beginning.

Cecile never had any symptoms - no coughing, dyspnea, or any other manifestation that would have pointed to cancer. She didn’t even smoke! But in a cursory medical exam at work, her chest x-ray revealed a lung tumor.

Cecile wasn’t a smoker.
But she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

At first, she ignored it. Four months passed before she sought medical help. By that time, her tumor had grown considerably. “They took a tissue sample of the tumor from my neck – it was so advanced that the tumor has reached my neck!” Cecile said. “My tumor was as big as my fist and it was surrounded by many lymph nodes.”

Yes, it wasn’t a pretty picture. And to add insult to injury, chemotherapy was once again going to be expensive. Cecile knew she was going to have to bleed money out of her ears for her to afford chemotherapy.

Cecile mentioned how having lung cancer was a “different miracle” to her. What did she mean? What exactly was her miracle? Find out when you check back once again in a few days to continue the amazing story of how mother and daughter fight cancer together.

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!


  1. Glad that someone in the know has written about our very dear friends Cecile & Carmella. Cecile's other half, Roy, must take a lot of credit for being supportive, always there by their side, and keeping the family together, and being healthy. Perhaps there should be a study made at the area surrounding the house where the Jaleco family has been living-- this was a dumpsite over 15 years ago -- and there may be something in the water system deep inside the ground that may have contributed, if not caused, ill health to both. Thank you.

  2. This story really touches me. My Tita was diagnosed with lung cancer just a month ago. She never had symptoms and she never smoked as well. By the time she couldn't stand anymore because of a seemingly harmless back & leg pain, we found out that the cancer already reached her bones. While it might be painful, we know that God's love still prevailed in the end. I'll pray for the continuous strength of Ms. Cecile & Carmella. I know their story will inspire others to not give up the fight.

  3. Anonymous #1, good point. I didn't know their area might have been contaminated by carcinogenic substances. Maybe there is something that contributed to their condition, especially if Cecile's family history reveals no previous cases of cancer.

    Eunice, I believe Cecile would be really happy if her story inspired others indeed! Perhaps her story can help foster awareness and, in the future, people will be more vigilant. Even your aunt's story can help open eyes and hearts. :) Thank you for dropping by and reading Cecile's and Carmella's stories.