By AIKLE CUEVAS
This article was contributed in observance of World Cancer Day, which aims to spread awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
Over 10 years ago, I had shared the same life story with many university scholars of this country. I hailed from a poor family, squatting in a small compound in Parañaque, with barely enough resources to survive each day. My father labored until late, retreading and vulcanizing tires. My mother took care of us four kids at home while we all tried to obtain our college degrees. I had just enough money in the pockets of my oft worn out jeans, and losing a peso would mean anything from not having merienda to skipping the trike to our house and having to go on a long, tiring walk.
I was perpetualy hungry: for food, for comfort, and for a better story than the life I endured back then. My upcoming graduation from school was promising just that. A well-paid career, money for food, for bills, for decent shelter, and maybe some extra cash to save in the bank. I was all set to write that story, ready for my first paycheck after getting my diploma.
That was until I started feeling unwell, losing my entire drive and vitality to work and go through what used to be ordinary routine.
It took a few laboratory tests and a checkup to reveal the new story God had just written for me. I had an aggressive type of leukemia, blood cancer, and had to go through expensive chemotherapy. I needed to stop working, and had to be taken care of and be isolated to be protected from further infections.
Hospital beds, needles, and medicines. Those were the staples of my days and weeks of confinement. Far removed from the images of the better life I was already starting to enjoy at my new job, the swivel chairs, laptops, papers, and frequent lunch outs with colleagues.
It was a hard narrative to accept. No matter how much faith lessons were taught at university, it was an entirely different thing to be asked to exercise them.
I used to ask from God for good exam scores, health for my family, even just a chance to play basketball once in a while. I wasn’t prepared to pray that He would not end my life story altogether so soon.
But as in any story, and after receiving help to see things through personal prayer, I realized that I was not alone. I was not alone in asking God to help me go through this trial. I was not alone in believing that this was just another episode, not yet the concluding chapter in my journey. I had the help of friends who came to support me, both spiritually and financially, even though I never asked them to.
I realized that even if I were writing my last sentence, it would be filled with thanksgiving, filled with the consolation of love from the people who surrounded me. Not a bad plot for a short life journey.
Two years ago, 12 years after my first ordeal with the Big C, I was declared cancer free by my doctors. While I looked forward to a new chapter of my life filled with hope, there were still many uncertainties as to how my story will unfold. That is, except for the one truth I have accepted. Whatever the future holds for me, I am not alone, I have never been the sole protagonist of my own story. He is with me.