Updated: Jun 13, 2019
January 29, 2019. I will never forget this day; the day I received my final diagnosis. It was Leiomyosarcoma, cancer of smooth muscle tissue. STAGE 4.
I couldn’t help but look in the mirror - I saw someone young, strong and [generally] fit. I rarely get sick; I’ve never even been admitted to a hospital for anything. Am I really sick? Never in my wildest nightmares did I become this ill. But it happened. In my real world.
Flashback to mid-2018, I felt a lump in my left calf. I was in Malta at that time, so when I had the chance to travel back to the Philippines last December 2018, I had it checked. My family, including myself, were taking it easy – like it was nothing, coz duh, I didn’t feel sick AT ALL! I knew though that each of my family members were already praying hard, that it was just a simple muscle strain or if it was indeed a tumor, that hopefully it was benign. Then, the MRI results were out. It read that the lump may be malignant and that biopsy is needed to know what it really is. I was advised to do a chest CT-scan to rule out metastasis (i.e. spreading to other parts of the body). When my boyfriend knew about it, [after praying about it] he immediately booked a ticket to the Philippines. He accompanied me to all my hospital appointments. It was confirmed - YES, I have Leiomyosarcoma and it has already started to spread through my lungs [without me feeling anything]. Stage 4 cancer – the last stage there is. Imagine that we have just started our relationship a few months before and we were already faced with this trial. We are both Christians and God has perfectly orchestrated our lives - He knew I would need someone close to me [in addition to my loving family and friends], whom I can share this experience with; Someone I can grow my faith with – but let’s save our love story for the next article. *Wink* When faced with these kinds of trials, you start to wonder what the Lord’s plan in your life is. And so, we started having daily devotions to understand what it is that the Lord wants to tell us and it’s just amazing how He worked in our lives. Time and time again, His provisions and mercy were in the picture. We are forever in awe.
Following my diagnosis, I extended my Christmas vacation to an indefinite leave and went for a systemic chemotherapy. I had a total of 5 cycles; Each cycle meant 4 days of 3-hour infusion a day. I had a port-a-cath installed in my left chest so I could spare myself from puncture wounds and direct damages to my veins [since the chemo drugs were so strong that it could “burn” the veins]. Before I started my chemotherapy, I was made aware of the possible side effects: vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, bruising, loss of appetite, among others. Honestly, hair loss was the only side effect I was afraid of coz I thought it would make me look like someone else - someone sick. We prayed every single day that I only respond to the benefits of the chemotherapy and that I don’t experience any of the side effects as much as possible. The Lord is exceedingly merciful that I actually experienced only hair loss (well, not a complete loss, there were like 382 strands left. Haha), and bruising in the thumbnails. And the bonus is, I think my appetite just doubled. In fact, I gained 5 kgs. After 5 chemo cycles, the lump in my calf was reduced by about 35% and the metastasis in my lungs were reduced from 30+ small nodules (lumps) to 6 tiny ones. My doctors were so happy with how my body responded to the chemo regimen – in fact, the oncologist administering my chemotherapy told me that out of all his patients [in his entire lifetime], I had the most excellent response [especially after my 3rd cycle]. How wonderful is He whom we serve!
I can’t imagine how my life would be if I hadn’t clung onto God. I knew He was the one who caused me to never vomit (not even once!), to have favors in hospital appointments, to meet all our financial needs - the list is unending! I was waiting for a big miracle. Little did I know that these “small” things were already game changers. He said in His Word that as long as we seek Him first, everything else that we need will follow. He would never leave us, nor forsake us. I am holding on to those promises because our God is a promise-keeper, a way-maker and a miracle worker.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be used by the Lord to show how good, how faithful, how merciful, how loving He is. The treatment may still be in progress, but we know that the victory is already won.