November 07, 2008

Aunty Gingging

Do you believe in kulam (curse)? Well, I don’t.

But somehow this is all the talk that’s been going around for a couple of days now here at the house. We just recently received bad news from back home. My aunty Gingging has been diagnosed with cervical cancer. She has been a widow for almost a decade now. And, in retrospect, seems to be a most likely candidate for such an ailment. Nobody suspected. Not even her. She seemed to be so healthy and fit and was always on the go. Then one day, she was admitted to the hospital because of pain in her right kidney. They said they needed to perform surgery on it right away. She was admitted to the hospital where my mom worked. When the next call from my mom came, it was to tell us that there was a finding on aunty. My grand-aunty Flor was her attending physician and who told my mom of Aunty Gingging’s condition. They immediately had a sample tissue sent for biopsy. When the results came, my mom had a hard time coming to terms with the sad news. Aunty had stage 3 cancer already.

My aunty Gingging celebrated her golden birthday a couple of years ago. An active servant of God, she always volunteers for ministry work in the Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD) arm of Couples for Christ. She holds such a zest for life, actively going around joining ILCs anywhere in the archipelago, one time even touring down Malaysia together with her sisters in HOLD. I remember her as a very flamboyant person who loved to sing and dance. Way back in the late seventies, when The Saturday Night Fever movie showed in theaters around, my aunty took me with her to see the movie. When we left the moviehouse, we immediately went to a record house and she bought the soundtrack album. When we got home she immediately played it on the phonograph and we started doing the John Travolta moves to the tune of Night Fever. Boy it was fun!

But now, aunty’s ovaries have grown so very large after her hospital stay. It’s like she was pregnant by the size of her abdomen. With most of the folks back home being very traditional, talk started about my aunty being the victim of a curse. Rumors came out that the thing in her stomach is due to a curse. They wanted to bring her to a quack doctor. They even sent one relative to a known quack doctor, offer my aunty’s name/birthday, some info and ask him to heal her.

I believe in miracles, especially from God. It would take faith, I know.

Mommy was always crying and was text messaging everyone in the family but still couldn’t bring herself to tell aunty about her condition. But when friends started calling in to visit her and encouraging messages started trickling in, the inevitable happened. Aunty learned. Whether it was from her own son, or brod or sis from the CFC ministry or maybe by her own hunch, she learned. And she dealth with it. She prepared herself- emotionally, spiritually, and physically. And she’s still fighting her battle.

I sent my mom a package in time for her birthday, and along with it I sent the pink cap with a pink ribbon which I wore during the Pink Ribbon Walk for a Cause (Breast Cancer Awareness) in Dubai Burjuman. I said she should wear it even if it’s not breast cancer.

Mommy made the rounds of their properties and asked the consent of all her siblings to sell off a parcel of land in Zamboanga to pay for all the therapy and medical expenses. Then they went to Cagayan de Oro to look for a good oncologist but the best ones seem to be in Cebu so they scheduled for an appointment with the doctors there. The doctors immediately scheduled surgery to remove her ovaries which have grown so big that they were already impeding her kidneys.

On the day of her surgery in Cebu, Aunty Gingging called everyone of her siblings and had heart to heart talk with all of them. She wanted to make peace with all of them just to be sure and wouldn’t want to proceed with the operation unless she’s fully ready. She was strong. The doctors said her body was really fighting back. There were four doctors assisting the lead oncologist. Praise God for the good outcome of her surgery. Her doctors allowed her to go home to Iligan to recover and gain back some strength (maybe for a month). Then they will need to go back to Cebu to begin her radiation therapy sessions.

We continue to pray for her that her recovery will continue and that she will truly survive her cancer malady.

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