Archive for the ‘Dr. Samuel Ang’ Category

Cancer sucks, we all  know that.

Today February 4, we celebrate World Cancer Day as a means of raising awareness of the millions of people worldwide. Some of you may probably ask  why we celebrate  such an unfortunate event in one’s life. There are so many people who remain untreated worldwide maybe some for financial reasons and some because they are not aware of it.

This will be the first time in a number of years that I’ll be blogging about my bouts with colon cancer. almost nine years ago, I underwent sigmoid surgery followed by six cycles of chemotherapy. Back then I was so apprehensive if chemo would help me since I knew from some research that  it is a drastic measure to kill cancer cells. I was in a quandary whether to go with it or not. My doctor, Dr. Samuel Ang (they say he is the best surgical oncologist in the country) explained how it would be done and what to expect about the treatment. With closed eyes and with lots of prayers, my family and I nodded our YES. The Lord is a forgiving and merciful God, I knew He would be there by my side. I’ve undergone six cycles of chemotherapy along with oral chemo tablets which I had to take very two weeks before the next chemo. It was not a walk in the park.  For every cycle of chemo, my body was so weak that I could not even lift my arms most of the time. But God is good.

Some of my religious friends who underwent the same thing told me that we are closer to Him when we are in suffering. He let us experience pain to let us know that there will always be the possibility of getting well and lead a normal life again. Trust in God will always be  a constant  in  one’s life.

One’s immune system suffers from all the treatments  The days of uncertainties, the days of being so careful about one’s health.

I met so many people here, patients  who were under the same predicament and relatives who were concerned about them. It is precisely why this blog exists.

Please say a little prayer for us, patients and survivors alike.  THANKS!


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“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true. “ -Thomas Merton

Every second Sunday of the month I make it a point to watch Fr. Fernando Suarez  on TV, an early morning mass on ABS-CBN.  He is a healing priest and it has become a sort of ritual for me to wait for his healing prayers and be blessed. Back when I was sick and recuperating from an illness, when it was impossible to go out  and mingle with people, hearing mass on TV kept me anchored. I’m well able to attend regular masses  at our village chapel or in our Parish for quite some time now but out of habit, I still look forward to watching  the celebration on TV, be it Fr. Gerry Orbos, Fr. Joey  Faller, I love them all. This morning, I was touched by the stories shared by Fr. Suarez, about little children who were healed and one thing that I remembered him saying was this, “sometimes it is better that you are poor, because the only way that you’ll get cured is your faith and trust in God” . Not exactly his words but what he was driving at was this, if you have the money to consult a doctor, you rely on the doctor’s expertise for you to get well but if the only thing left is your belief that you’ll be cured, you will be.  He emphasized further that every time we attend mass, we are healed. Every mass is a healing mass, and healing comes not just physically but we are healed of our hurts, insecurities  and unbelief.  Listen to God’s words and how He speaks to us  in silence.  And at the most quiet place in our heart, we hear His voice.

What a wonderful feeling to experience God’s miracles.  I’ve blogged about this time and again. Last Friday, I met another wonderful doctor. Dr. Jonard Tan Co, is a gastroenterologist. He specializes in Diagnostic and Interventional Endoscopy and Endoscopic Ultrasound (I hope I got this right). Earlier on, Dr. Samuel Ang, my surgical oncologist asked me if I’m done with my colonoscopy so I  honestly told him that the procedure is so expensive compared to the one I underwent two years ago before my sigmoid surgery. He immediately called up Dr. Co, (they spoke in Chinese) and told me to drop by the latter’s clinic before I go home. More than the joy of meeting  another doctor, I was thrilled when Dr. Co quoted a sum lower than what Dr. Ang  estimated for the procedure. He wrote it at the back of his calling card and told me to show it to him when I am ready to undergo another colonoscopy.  Colonoscopy is an endoscopic examination of the colon. It can detect  polyps as small as one millimeter or less. The wonder of meeting  these people, I do think he is another angel sent by God to watch over me.

I am truly grateful for everything,  God is always  there for me, for us, and for my family.

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It’s one of those mornings that I am particularly excited and at the same time I feel that sort of apprehension, hoping that the day would be favorable for me.  We left the house early to get the results of my ultrasound, laboratory tests and CEA marker testing  and to keep another appointment with my surgical oncologist, Dr. Samuel Ang. It’s almost four months since my last check-up last November 2010.  I asked hubby to get the results for me while I waited in the car for a  few minutes,  silently praying  that everything would be normal but at the same time telling myself  that  whatever it is, I will humbly accept it without complaint.

You are strong Arlene and believe that you are healed“, that’s a silent chanting  playing in my head. “Lord,” I said, You have journeyed with me the past two years that I’ve struggled to get well, I know everything would be okay.” Tears were silently falling when hubby handed me the thick envelope from the Diagnostic Center.  The results were not just okay, they  were excellent and they moved me to tears. My CEA marker is 1.2  (normal level is between 0 to 5) so I am  in the normal range. All my lab tests are normal too. CEA  or Carcinoembryonic antigen is a tumor marker, a protein found in many types of cells but associated  with tumors and developing fetus. It is useful in monitoring the treatment of CEA-rich tumors. It was almost a year ago that I’ve undergone CEA testing, right after I’ve finished my last chemotherapy  and a year is long enough to live a normal life without worrying about another test.

God really works wonders in our lives,  although at times it takes a major setback for us to fully realize it. God’s love is truly immeasurable.  Being healthy is a gift from God. I sometimes look back at the days and months that I was in pain physically and emotionally and I marvel how God made me feel secure in His love, knowing that those days were just His ways of telling me to always trust and never lose faith.  And I remember this message from Footprints in the Sand.

“My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

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The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning…
Lamentations 3:22-23

Hubby and I planned of going to an internist at Medical City yesterday but it was already late when I called up to ask for an appointment so this morning we went there early. We didn’t have to wait long because the doctor was already there when we arrived.  I later learned that Dr. Tolentino is also an alumna of UST and what a wonderful thing to know that aside from being an internist, she is also an oncologist.  We had a short chat and she told me that my medical oncologist in UST, Dr. Priscilla Caguioa was her mentor in UST and she also personally knows my surgical oncologist, Dr. Samuel Ang. “What a small world”, I said.

I am looking for a good urologist/gastroenterologist because I need to have colonoscopy again not later than March this year.  Package for the procedure has really gone up since I had it two years ago.  Dr. Tolentino immediately called up a friend and asked him to accommodate me when I decide to have it in the next coming days. She even suggested that it is cheaper at Cardinal Santos Hospital than Medical City.  That gesture of kindness touched my heart. There is a big difference when a doctor is genuinely concerned with a patient’s problem than merely mouthing words of advice.  I am indeed lucky to meet all these wonderful doctors since the beginning of my journey as a cancer patient. I am doing okay now, with God’s grace and I am just so grateful for everything.  God always points the way.

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This is a little uncanny!  I looked at my last post a year ago and what do you know, I quoted same and exact words from John Burroughs while greeting everyone a happy year 2010.  I made my New year greetings early this morning and this is what I wrote on the picture that I took last December 25.

Compared to the bustle and clutter of 2009, this year has been a little subdued.   It was a year full of quiet musings and deep introspections.   I’ve gone on a few short trips, just testing how I can endure the long ride after chemotherapy.  Time was when, my life was divided into pre-surgery, recuperation and chemotherapy.  I thank God for giving me the strength to carry on despite the pain.   Hard knocks of life really make us a little stronger and enduring.

Hubby and I went back to Caleruega for an overnight stay last February 11, 2010 and as I have said in my previous blogs, that trip was  a  litmus test for me after six grueling sessions of chemotherapy.  If there is one place that I’ve blogged more than anything, it’s Caleruega.  It has become a sort of sanctuary for me.   And I thought, if I could survive that trip, then I am well.  I did and I am so much thankful for it.

Next came our Visita Iglesia last  April 01.  We did the rounds of at least seven churches in six towns in Laguna.   Every year, we make it a point to visit some churches during Holy Week .We traveled  via the scenic route from Binangonan, Cardona, Morong, Baras and Pillila, Rizal to the towns of Mabitac, Siniloan, Famy, Pangil, Pakil and Paete.  Laguna is famous for century-old churches.    It was a little tiring for me, what with so many people around and mostly under the heat of the sun.   I did okay, another plus for endurance, don’t you think?  Anyway, I thought that if I could spend the whole day outside without complaining of over-fatigue, everything would be okay and it was.   Hubby and I were also able to attend a Lenten retreat which made the celebration of Lent all the more meaningful.  God is so good!                                           

Finally had our small grotto blessed last April 11, 2010.  It was my promise to Mama Mary that I would have her image enshrined at our garden when I go out of the hospital.  Our garden was destroyed by typhoon Ondoy so we had to replenish everything planted there.   The grotto has a small pond and we have Koi fish swimming there now.  I am still not much into gardening except for an hour or two spent watering the plants every morning.

I was rushed to the hospital last May 01, 2010 because of  an acute UTI and my urologist found out that a kidney stone was lodged somewhere in my urinary tract prompting  him to insert a DJ stent for three months.  It was  a quick but an expensive procedure.   I have to make another visit to Dr. Ang’s clinic  ( he is my surgical oncologist) and he assured me that I could spend the Christmas holidays without the pressure of having another colonoscopy since he scheduled it early next year.  Hooray!

My life is slowly but surely getting back to normal.  Reading has taken a backseat though because I easily get tired while my eyes are focused on the small prints.  I remember the days when I could finish a book in a day, two or three days at the most for a long novel.  One of the joys of recuperating is having relaxed days, just concentrating on getting back your strength, never doing any taxing job.  I feel guilty though that I could not do heavy household chores although around this time, I could easily tag along doing the weekly marketing without complaints.

June 05, 2010 was Bank of the Philippines Island’s Family Day.  My daughter persuaded me to come but I was afraid to take any ride so I ended up just relaxing. I found a former office mate, such a perfect time to catch up on each other’s lives.

The month of July found me attending our  second grand reunion at the UST Library aptly called Balik-Aklatan 2. Ten years ago, we had our first reunion and this is the second time we had it. It’s nice to be back and see old friends and new faces . The three years I spent here were the best years of my teenage life. My love of books started during my stay here and I greatly appreciate what the experience taught me  – responsibility at an early age, juggling work with studies, meeting lots of friends and colleagues and most of all learning to appreciate good books.  I  was able to view the library exhibit’s  Lumina  Pandit which is in preparation for the  Quadricentennial  celebration of the University.

Remembering the good old days – that’s what the reunion was all about.   Hubby and I  had an overnight trip to Bataan middle of September.   We heard mass at Balanga Cathedral and met some new friends.  Awesome place, friendly people.  I want to go back there one of these days, if time permits.  September also started my journey as one of the three administrators of a Catholic page at Facebook.  Fr. Louie, OP calls it my online apostolate.  It is such a joy to be able to help and inspire other people.   Membership at the site is steadily increasing.  What a wonder, God is pointing the way for me to interact with people.  Last September 25, I was able to touch the image of La Naval when my good friend Lovell invited me to join them in praying the rosary when they transferred our Lady of La Naval in an enclosed room in preparation for the October Feast Day.  Awesome moments for me, seeing her up close! Last November 29, I met an online friend for the first time after exchanging notes and blogging at Multiply.  Bong is such a very gracious lady and we had a blast with her hubby, my daughter and my husband.

A few days ago, my daughter, his boyfriend and I went home to attend the barangay fiesta at our place. Though it was only a short vacation, I enjoyed it.  We’ve been able to visit some relatives and spent lunch at Maxine’s  facing the famous Hundred Islands.  I took lots of pictures of course.

At the marina, facing the lighthouse ….

The famous tourist attraction, The Hundred Islands in Lucap, Alaminos City

Somewhere along SCTEX , facing the Arayat Mountains in Pampanga

It’s been a good year so far and before it ends, I want to greet all of you HAPPY NEW YEAR.  May the coming year be fruitful, blessed and happy for all of us.

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I was supposed to have my check-up late last month but I was a little busy at home so I postponed it till today.  It’s kind of weird sometime to feel afraid to see the results of the laboratory tests. I guess, it is really something inevitable and no matter what the outcome, you have to accept it.  We passed by New World Diagnostic Center to get the lab results then proceeded to the Chinese General Hospital for an appointment with my surgical oncologist, Dr. Samuel Ang. He was a little late arriving at the clinic and the secretary explained that he had to handle an emergency surgery.

Dr. Samuel Ang is a very caring and  wonderful doctor.  I finally brought a camera and told him I am still doing some blogs about him.  He just smiled and told me to give him the link to my blog.  He shared that some of his patients were able to find him through the internet.  I just said, it is my small way of saying  “thank you” for taking care of me.

Dr. Samuel Ang and me!

I am scheduled for another check-up come January 2011 – colonoscopy, CEA marker testing, liver ultrasound and the usual lab tests that I need to undergo every three months.   My SGPT/SGOT results were still a bit high but compared to my last laboratory tests, they have gone down significantly and Dr. Ang explained that sometimes,  these are still the effects of chemotherapy.  It’s  almost a year now since my last chemo and I am really glad that finally, I am getting every bit stronger day by day, being able to do the things I used to do.

Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center

I have this interesting conversation with some of the patients waiting at Dr. Ang’s clinic.  They were asking if he has been my doctor for long and I told them he operated on me July of last year.  It was followed by six cycles of chemotherapy at the Benavidez Cancer Institute in UST. One of them said, “you are looking good, parang hindi ka nagkasakit.” I’ve often asked myself, “how should you look when you’ve been diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and underwent rigorous chemotherapy sessions?” Everytime I meet people who didn’t know what I have gone through, they are simply amazed that I look okay.  I thank God most of all for letting me go on with life, still enjoying it with my family until now.

Dr. Ang said, ” Congratulations Arlene” with that big smile on his face and that matters a lot because I know that I will get through  this, that I would be hundred percent fit again!   I’d like to bear this in mind,  “he who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything”.

God is so good, all the time!

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July 14, 2010

Thanks be to God!

Thank you for the gift of life,

Thank you for the gift of presence,

Thank you for the gift of family,

Thank you for the gift of friendship,

Thank you for the gift of healing,

May I see You in every person that I will meet,

May I see You in every event of my life.

And may I show You Lord to others.


Yesterday, I received this beautiful message and prayer from  Lovell, a close friend, who has been and is continuously  egging me on to appreciate life no matter how difficult it is sometimes,   and I was teary-eyed reading it.  It summarizes all the pains and the joys of  my journey, a year of  blessings and challenges!  Yes,  it is my first anniversary – at this same time last year, I was at the lowest ebb of my life, undergoing  a surgical resection of my colon because of a malignant cyst which turned out to be a Stage 3 colon cancer.   I was in denial for a while  but finally accepted that God must have a greater purpose in my life to give me such a heavy burden.  Imagine distancing yourself from a situation that you can’t control, and when you are caught with your defenses down, you look back and think of those times when life is simple and happiness means being healthy, having lots of loving friends at your side and a loving family to turn to and take care of you.

The last year has been an eye-opener for me.  I discovered that I am strong despite everything, I discovered that the presence of family and loving friends help a lot in one’s healing.  And putting your complete trust and faith in a loving God is the greatest thing you can do to help yourself get well.  Chemotherapy is no joke, it saps your body of strength  and the costly procedures add to your financial worries.  I know, I know, they would always say, concentrate on getting well,  sometimes though you can’t help but think, you are luckier than most people afflicted of the same illness because  at least you have an option to see a specialist and  do what is necessary for your healing.

Thank you! Thank God for giving me the strength to carry on, to endure the pain  and  not to whine, to count the blessings  of having my family around, thank  God for   friends who never fail to give encouragement,  thank you  for the people whom I’ve touched in one way or another by sharing my plight with them.

Thank you! Thank  God for my doctors, Dr. Samuel Ang, my surgical oncologist, the best doctor I’ve met, Dr. Priscilla Caguioa, my medical oncologist for being there during my chemotherapy sessions, Dr. Alvin dela Cruz, my cardiologist,  a very supportive and caring doctor,  Dr. Ditas Decena, my OB gynecologist who is also a friend, Dr. Jeff Jubilado, my urologist for being so encouraging, the nurses at Benavidez Cancer Institute- UST.

Thank you! Thank God for the gift of family – for having a loving and understanding hubby, for having  thoughtful kids and brothers.  I salute you all!

And for all those people who left some comments in my blogs, that they somehow found strength and inspiration by reading my journey towards healing, thank you.

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Just spent the past three days  going to the diagnostic center, undergoing a series of laboratory tests, KUB (Kidney Urinary Bladder ultrasound),  CEA (cancer marker testing) and visiting my two doctors, Dr. Samuel Ang, my surgical oncologist  at the Chinese General Hospital and Dr. Jeff  Peter Jubilado, my new  urologist at Mission Hospital.  Every three months, I have to report back to either one of my medical oncologist, Dr. Priscilla Caguioa at the UST Hospital or to Dr. Ang for consultation.

Of all the laboratory tests that I’ve been through, there are really one or two things I hate most – that of having a KUB and undergoing colonoscopy.  It’s almost a year now since I had major surgery at the Chinese General Hospital and it’s almost a year too since my life has turned upside down, not knowing what the future holds.  Being diagnosed with colon cancer or any cancer for that matter is really a nightmare.  A month ago, I was again hospitalized for a kidney bypass, they inserted a DJ stent  which will  stay inside  for three months, hence this KUB ultrasound which I really abhor.  Imagine yourself almost bursting at the seams,  but you are not allowed to use the ladies’ room because you have to be on a full bladder before they would start on the ultrasound.  It is so inconvenient, but again necessary for your well-being.   I am not against colonoscopy per se but what I hate is the preparation prior to the procedure.  I have resigned myself that this would be a yearly ritual from now on.

When you are sick, you always look at life with renewed faith, trusting  and leaving everything in God’s hands.  It  is quite scary though to anticipate the results of the laboratory tests.  And you can only utter, ‘thank God, thank you Lord” once you see that your CEA marker is still within the normal limits.  Yes, Lord, thank you!  My  cancer marker test was at 1.8 from the normal limit of  0 to 5.0, something I am grateful and thankful for.  My SGPT and SGOT results were so high.  My liver is probably tired of all those medications that I take everyday or  maybe, the high  values  are still the effect of my six cycles of chemotherapy.

I brought along my Thai Cuisine cookbook for something to read while waiting for Dr. Ang.  Some patients of his were discussing about their ailments and I was unashamedly eavesdropping,  hiding behind a face mask.  I still wear one for hospital visits, being afraid to go out in crowded places  until now.  One patient who has a  big lump in her breast said,  “I will never undergo chemotherapy, if this turn out to be malignant, mamatay na kung mamatay”. I was amused at the look on her face.  Then she said, “I don’t have that much money to spend on chemo anyway”. Then she turned to me, our eyes met and she asked, “Bakit po kayo naka face mask?”. They were in rapt attention when I told them what I went through. And their never-ending questions saved  an otherwise boring wait.  It is always easy to say that you don’t want to undergo such drastic measures like chemo or surgery but when you are in that crossroad, the choice is always hard to do.

And do you know  what happiness meant for me  now?  It’s being told by my doctor that I don’t have to undergo colonoscopy  at this time.  He said, “Enjoy the rest of the year Arlene, we will schedule it by January next year“.  Wow, those words were music to my ears.   And he kept saying “Very good, very good,  you are okay”. I told him about my new urologist and when he heard that it was Dr. Jubilado, he told me to stick to the latter because he is a very good doctor.  It turned out that Dr. Samuel Ang was Dr. Jubilado’s mentor.  What a small world!

“The time to be happy is now.

And the place to be happy is here.

And the way to be happy is to make others happy

and we’ll have a little Heaven right here.”- anonymous

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UST Hospital, Medical Arts Bldg.

We’ve been here in UST since 9am, stayed at the hospital chapel for a while before going to the clinic of my medical oncologist, Dr. Priscilla Caguioa. The hard part of course is always the long wait.  But I am not complaining and I have no right to complain since I know she is with some patients having their chemotherapy at the Benavidez Cancer Institute (BCI) here in UST. Pretty soon, I’ll also be there just like them. Time and again, I said that I am not always persevering when it comes to spending time doing nothing but wait for the doctor to arrive, might as well spend the time updating my journal.

There is always something fulfilling in sharing one’s travails in life.  There is always a lesson learned.  I know I am not alone in this predicament.  There are so many people out there who are suffering the same illness as I am.  And I know we are in the same pursuit of getting well and desiring to live life as normal as possible again. Earlier we dropped by the Diagnostic Center to get the results of my laboratory tests.  Except for a higher than normal value of my SGPT/SGOT, everything is okay.  I am hoping that it would normalize soon.  It’s always quite scary to know that too much medication is not good for one’s liver. It’s liable to get destroyed.  A friend who has just undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer told me that there is really a need for cleansing after the treatment. Based on the suggested chemotherapy treatment that I have to undergo, it would take me at least six months or about half a year to finish it.  Was I glad that my CEA (colon cancer marker) has significantly gone down? The normal value is in the range of 0.00 – 5.00ng/ml.  before my surgery it reached as high as 12.5 but now my CEA has gone down to a significant 1.6 which is within the normal range.  Thank God, this is a miracle for me. I am so thankful to the Lord almighty I could cry. My medical oncologist told me later that everything is okay, I need the chemo for preventive measures.  She even said that Dr. Samuel Ang, my surgical oncologist did a very, very good job. If only he was around, I would have hugged him tight in gratitude.

Earlier on, I’ve been observing some patients and their companions waiting for each of their doctors to call their names.  Funny how, you can share your plight with complete strangers without any hesitation. One thing I know is that, most of them have the willing ears to listen and to understand without being too judgmental.  And it’s true, sometimes it’s hard to share your pain with your family,relatives and close friends because you don’t want them to worry about you, you don’t want them to be so much affected by what is happening around you, but they are the same people who are always there to cheer you up, care for you, pray for you, say kind words and comfort you at the lowest ebb of your life.

As I have always said, I get a big lump in my throat every time I hear from friends and relatives.  I feel the tears flowing through not because of the pain of my ailment but because of their generosity in sharing their precious time to comfort me. Oh, to feel the joy of knowing that so many care about me, God is truly wonderful.

I was finally scheduled to have my 1st chemotherapy on Tuesday, August 18, 2009. Wish me luck and please say a little prayer for me too. Thank you!

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The stark truth is that I was afraid. I was afraid of going under the knife again. Nine years ago, I had my first major surgery due to endemetriosis.  My  OB-gynecologist had to do a total hysterectomy to prevent further damage to my reproductive system.  I accepted that wholeheartedly and I recovered pretty fast. But when you knew that another surgery would be a life-changing one, everything comes into focus.  The only thing that kept me sane during those dark days was my complete and unwavering faith in the Lord.  This line kept playing in my head, “let go and let God take charge of my life for me”.

I entered Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center on July 12th at around 2:30pm with a bouquet of fresh and gorgeous flowers waiting for me at the information desk.  It was personally delivered by one of my friends at Multiply, Mary An.  She knew that I love flowers and her sweet gestures made me smile.  How thoughtful!  It was an uncomfortable night of taking laxatives and undergoing water enema.

July 13, 2009  – Monday

Had my first IV starting at 7am, I was no longer allowed to eat any solid food, not even a drop of water.  My high school friends came to visit – Vicky, Beth, Lor, Edna and Liza.  Another night of extensive water enema and taking another bottle of laxatives.  If there is one thing which was very hard for me to tolerate, it was the process of drinking a bottle of castor oil.

I received several inspirational texts from close friends. They offered prayers and masses for me.

July 14, 2009 – Tuesday

I was fetched from my room at exactly 6am, was taken at the O.R. at the 2nd floor.  I was a bit groggy by then but I still managed to pray mentally while the monitor attached to my arm had its steady beep.  At 7:15am, I saw Dr. Ang’s face (he is my oncologist).  My journey has begun.  I knew nothing until I woke up at 12:15pm at the recovery room and saw Dr. dela Cruz (my cardiologist), one of the kindest if not the kindest doctor I’ve ever encountered.  It was three hours of agony watching the clock until 3pm.  My blood pressure has dramatically dropped down so I had to stay there for a while.  I had chills and aching body. I’ve been operated on before at the UST Hospital but nothing can compare to the noise, loud laughter and loud talks in CGH’s recovery room.  It seemed that they were quite indifferent to the plight of recovering patients.  Or was I just too sensitive, seeking silence while my body ached?  The nurse assigned to me was even “suplada”, to search for a better word.  I was taken to my room at 3:15pm.  That’s right, I kept watching the clock like a hawk watching its prey.

It was the longest night I ever had in my life. Aside from back pains, guarded movements because of my surgery (they did a resection of my colon, aptly called sigmoidectomy), I experienced the worst stomach pain/hyper acidity due to no food intake.  It was my third day of abstaining from food. Ate Violy (my  sis-in-law) arrived from San Antonio and she sat with me the whole night, alternating with the hubby.  The room where I was initially assigned to had a defective air conditioning.  I survived the night just turning my head from side to side, uttering a silent prayer that my agony would end.

July 15, 2009 – Wednesday

My daughter, mom my brother and sis-in-law came for a visit.  Blessed relief, I was able to transfer to another room and it was cool.  My daughter  stayed with me for two days and one night so hubby could go home to rest.  With still three bottles of IV attached to both arms, I woke in the middle of the night with my left arm in pain. The IV bottle was empty.  How neglectful could they be? I could not sleep the rest of the night because every time my eyes opened, it was almost always drawn to the IV bottle attached to me. Luckily, the nurse was able to aspirate it.

July 16, 2009  – Thursday

Alden came for a lightning visit despite the heavy rains and typhoon.  Thursday night was a repeat of the previous one – my IV got clogged and it was more painful. I was waiting for the assigned nurse just to make a simple apology to no avail.  She even told me that they might have to transfer it to my right arm. I flared up! I would understand if it only happened once, but two nights in a row, that’s negligence on their part right?

Next came the male nurse and a resident intern.  It took them almost two hours to locate a good vein (after two attempts, pumuputok at lumolobo yung vein ko). I have small veins, the rest almost invisible. That’s why I am afraid of needles, they never seem to get it in one shot.  I have half a dozen needle marks in my two hands, two of which still bear bluish mark while another one has turned yellow.  All my medications the first five days of surgery were injectables – pain reliever, antibiotics, medicine for hyperacidity etc. It’s my 5th day of no food, no liquids etc.

July 17, 2009 – Friday

I could turn sideways, walk a step or two, could text all my friends back since my left hand was free.  I lived through all those inspirational texts, messages of concern, mass offerings and constant prayers from friends and family.  Special thanks go to my five high school friends, Lor, Edna, Vicky, Liza and Beth, Mary An, my Multiply friend who always get in touch, Alma, a fellow Flipper who prayed for me during my operation, Lovell, who never fails to text me almost everyday and offering mass for me too and to Tobbie, another friend from KSA. Thank you so much for considering me as your older sister. And to all my other online friends and relatives who constantly prayed for me, thanks!  My thanks to Dahil, another best friend from the US who called me up at the hospital and Wing, a former neighbor and friend who now resides in Virginia, my sis-in-law, Ate Edna together with her kids who came for a visit despite the continuing rains, Sr. Thea, a friend since my teen years for those words of encouragement, my two other angels, Jomari, our neighbor and my son Josef for volunteering to donate blood so I could be operated on. I guess, it’s now a standing policy of every hospital for a patient to have at least two blood donors (of any type of blood) before they would schedule you for operation.

July 18, 2009 – Saturday

Alleluia!  I could now take one teaspoon of water every hour.  Blessed, blessed improvement from several days of parched and cracked lips.  Now, I realized that those daily  rituals which we often  ignore like drinking water become manna from heaven whe you are denied of it for a long time.  I saw the sun’s rays behind the blue curtains at the wide windows, signalling a day of new hope. I could walk around my room now, sit for an hour or two in the two plastic chairs provided by the hospital. I even tried sitting at the small bed provided for patient’s companion. It felt uncomfortable because it was so low.

My high school friends came back for another visit, so thoughtful. I spent an hour listening to them recall our high school days together. Lovell came by despite a very hectic schedule, he just planed in from Davao and had to attend a whole day Saturday class in UST.  Nothing could beat a few moments of happiness when you are surrounded by people who truly cares.  I spent the night a little more comfortable than the previous nights before.

Sunday onwards until I was discharged from the hospital were days of recuperating, slowly gaining strength despite the limited intake of food.  I was only allowed soft diet until a few days after I left the hospital.  My best friend Karen and her hubby visited me Sunday morning. I am back at home now, enjoying a brief respite from the dark days and nights of having my sigmoid resection.  Two days ago, I learned from my oncologist that I am on Stage 3 so there is really no choice for me but to undergo a minimum of six sessions of chemotherapy to a maximum of eight.  And as I’ve said before, I am enjoying the brief time which I call my “pre-chemo days”. And I really, really thank God for being always there for me. More than ever I felt His presence during those days and nights that I can’t sleep, thinking of nothing in particular but to get well and enjoy life again.

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