Rekindle Your Spirit: Remembering mommy...

In 1995, my mom went into surgery to remove a suspicious tumor from her right armpit. After the surgery, her doctor showed me this tumor which literally looked like a cabbage. Her doctor said that he needed to run some tests to find out for sure if the tumor was malignant or not. That life-altering moment was still very vivid in my mind, because I’ve never felt so dizzy and nauseated my entire life. When I was ushered into the recovery room, I saw my mom sleeping; clearly the general anesthesia hasn’t worn off yet. I’ve never ever seen her that utterly helpless before!

Sometime later, the doctor confirmed a horrible truth: My mom had non- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes, and one of the most aggressive forms of cancer. Proof was that a mere three years later, that spiteful tumor has metastasized into my mom’s spine, stomach, uterus, and intestines.

The next five years became a vicious body-draining and spirit-sucking road to our own Calvary. A barrage of life-changing medical interventions left the family grasping for air on a moment-to moment basis. But it was especially hard on my mom’s body because she had to endure monthly chemotherapy sessions, even cobalt therapy later on. After her chemo, we visited her oncologist for check-ups which always included granocide injections to raise her white blood cells (WBC) worth P6000 per vial, which went up to 6 vials per visit, depending on my mom’s blood test. My mom also underwent an avalanche of laboratory tests, such as CT scans, bone scans, 2 D-echo’s, and the dreadful bone marrow aspiration, where a gargantuan needle was stuck right through the spine to draw blood, eliciting heart-wrenching cries from her.

I had to be strong on the outside because I was her sole companion through the whole ordeal, despite the incredulous fear that left me shaking and trembling on the inside. What kept me sane through it all? Reflecting on the life story of Joseph in the Old Testament was my anti-depressant! 

And Cam Floria’s musical rendition of this great man’s life woke me up in the morning; calmed me at night; kept me grateful during moments in between:

“When doubt and disappointment
Hide the morning sun
When all my dreams have ended
All my songs are sung.
His spirit soars within me
Every doubt is gone
I see a new horizon
Then sing a brand new song.

For in His perfect timing
Up ahead the light is shining
And I know the dawn
Will be arriving very soon.

When God closes a door
He opens a window
He opens a window
So I can see
He’s working it out the very best for me
He opens a window just for me.”

Somehow I understood, just like how Joseph’s excruciating trials ultimately saved Israel during a notorious famine, my mom’s sickness was meant to bring out a myriad of stories abounding in sacrifice and hope. It surely did!

A flock of loyal friends and relatives dashed in with their magnanimous support and prayers. My husband also astonished me! Aside from providing for my mom’s medical requirements, he insisted on traveling from his workplace in Laguna to our home in Novaliches every single day, just to be with me. When my mom’s sun has finally set in 2001, she left without any parting advice, perhaps knowing that she left her “unica hija” to a very good man, whose bright future sparkles from his luminous character.

The Recovery
Losing someone you love is never easy. It took me a long time to really recover not only from the pain, but more so from the guilt of not having the chance to exhaust other possible means to save my mom. What eased the guilt was when my church mate who also lost his wife of some 20 years told me, “Ikaw rin pala ganoon ang pakiramdam mo, ako rin kasi.” That honest reply validated my feelings which sort of gave me permission to grieve.

For the next several months, my hubby would see me all curled up, crying on my mom’s bed, where she died. Without judgment, he just allowed me to cry in his arms until I’d fall asleep in exhaustion. My mental anguish was so strong I literally felt my mind would have just snapped anytime. Daily talks with my hubby, prayers and meditations on the Book of Psalms healed me bit by bit, until I finally broke free from the reins of depression, a year and a half later.