(August 30, 2016) DUBAI-I became a social worker on my own terms when I become unemployed due to “illegal termination” in a free weekly newspaper where I worked as a newswriter cum advertising sales executive.
While undergoing legal processes on my labor case, I knew I had to do something to keep myself busy or I will succumb to hating, cursing, worrying, anxiety and all kinds of madness. So I decided to turn these negativities into something worthwhile or these will defeat my being.
I met one stage 4 breast cancer patient at the Dubai Hospital, 47 years old, a single mother who raised 2 sons and away from home for many years. For a couple of months, I saw her and her family struggle to fight the disease but it was too late. Her wish to go back to the Philippines and be with her loved ones was not fulfilled.
During that time, it was not only Emilie but there are five other Filipina breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. That moved me to do my part on cancer awareness campaign as a media practitioner. I created the Kabayan Cancer Warrior Facebook page. I diverted my frustrations on helping cancer patients in any way I can. I also volunteered in an annual free Reiki session for cancer patients in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and got a chance to meet cancer survivors and warriors of different nationalities.
(Photo: The battle cry of Kabayan Cancer Warrior volunteers printed on shirts that serve as campaign material.)
When Emilie passed on, it was also frustrating not only for me but for my friends who helped along the way. We felt our best was not enough. We were caught in the emotional web too.
I was thinking if this will be the first and the last but Michelle Erika came a month after Emilie was gone. Michelle Erika, 27 years old has blood cancer and must undergo bone marrow transplant. She needs to raise a start-up of US$36,000 or US$600,000 for her treatment. While visiting her at the same hospital, I met new set of kabayan undergoing therapy or recently diagnosed with cancer. There was a time I saw a young lady crying at the lobby and I had to look for her to know her conditions. She was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer,and not a benign tumor. Another kabayan with stage 3 breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy was comforting her. I was rattled at seeing them and afraid of meeting some more in the lobby or rooms of the oncology unit.
While getting to know Michelle Erika, I also got to know Divinia, 50 years with stage 4 breast cancer. Hers is a complicated condition not only physically but legally. There were legal issues that prevented to her to avail medical treatment. She opted to bear the pain until she was convinced to be hospitalized.
Up to this writing, Michelle Erika and Divinia are both still battling cancer and all the toil that it entails; physically, financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The fight is still on.
I am also in my personal battle. In the confusion of what brought me to this; why am I in this challenging situation of other people when I also have my own set of challenges. I was once asked by a friend on why should I bother myself about this when in fact I am also in a dilemma.
Someone told me that I should help myself first before I can help others as up to now despite my own struggles of being “jobless” in a foreign land and alone. I could not detach myself from helping. Seeing and being with Stage 4 cancer patients is a not a joke. It is gruelling. I really don’t know, or there must really a reason, as the saying goes, “Everything happens for a reason.”
Until I understand but for now, I have committed to help despite all odds. Yes, there were ties I feel like giving up but when I look at her, I must not.########