It’s a usual scene every morning wherein my sister wakes me up for breakfast to get ready for school. That’s the perks of being the younger brother in my family (and having an elder sister) – she wakes up early and prepare breakfast (well, until it’s my turn to do the same for my younger brother).
I was 11 years old.
But that morning was different. My sister woke me up in a different tone.
“Gising na! Gising!” I can still remember her sobbing while shaking me from my sleep.
“Wala na si Daddy. Patay na sya!” she said in a trembling voice.
This is a common scene in a family where a loved-one passed away. A story depicted in many movies, and tv shows.
To some it’s a story being told for lessons. To some it’s a life experience where one draws strength from.
And yes, this is my story – the life experience of my family – surviving the death of a cancer-victim father. And yes, we are survivors too!
Cancer is Real (and is Prevalent)
According to the Philippine Cancer Society, 1 out of 1,000 Filipinos have cancer. That’s the reason why most of us know someone, directly or indirectly related to us, who suffer with the said disease.
One part of that fact is this – regardless whether we have a family history of cancer or not, we are all vulnerable.
According to the rates in 2008, 13 out of 100 males and 12 out of 100 females in the Philippines would have had some form of cancer if they would have lived up to age 75. Ten out of 100 males and 7 out of 100 females would have died from cancer before age 75.
…And It Is Very Expensive To Treat
I was young back then. The truth is, it’s only just recently that I’m able to glimpse the hidden sacrifices and sufferings hidden in my youth.
My mom has a mole on her feet and yes, she is a living testimony – that people with mole on their feet loves to travel. Well, in her case, she really loves to move around.
And yup, I’ve been her personal driver during the past few months.
During one of those drives, she told me this story that really made me cry inside but have to fake with a tease and a laugh.
That was the day when my mom have to leave home and take care of something.
Dad kept asking where she’d go. She said she just have to fetch something at school (she’s a teacher).
She picked up a tricycle, and rode to her destination.
She knew that it’s just a matter of time. She’s strong, but she, just like anybody else, a human, crying inside while on her way to purchase that final resting place of her husband – a coffin.
It will take more than a million pesos to decently battle the disease. More often, people with cancer choose to face death than to leave their family with further uncertainty in the future.
As I was trying to research the cost of being a cancer survivor, I found this article by Ellen Tordesillas published during 2006 – nine years ago.
The amounts she presented were expensive back then, moreso today.
What You Should Know…
Physical, emotional, psychological, and financial pains.
We can do nothing on the first three, in most things in life, these three pains are always there. But we can minimise (or even extinguish) the impact of the last one.
Do you know someone who prays to experience cancer, or any other critical illnesses? No one.
But these diseases continue to strike, regardless of nationality, upbringing, and financial/social status. We are all equal in this regard.
The truth is, only those who have the resources to pay for the treatment become survivors of the disease. The rest become survivors of the victims (those people who are left behind).
During his battle for cancer, he had four children at school. Three were studying at a private school at St. Paul School (Kinder, Elementary, and High School), and the eldest attending his college at Mapua Institute of Technology.
Mom is a retired public school teacher. Back then, I can only imagine how she juggled her small income with all of those expenses, how she took on the hardship of asking help from whatever source possible (friends, relatives, charities).
My dad died during 1998 – a year were information were not as readily available as today.
He had no Life Insurance, no Health Insurance. Mom and my eldest brother were paying debts years after his death.
These experiences undoubtedly made each one of us stronger. Perhaps we are where we are today because of these life experiences.
But, in this age of awareness, we have to understand that it’s our responsibility to prepare. That our negligence to act could be the root of sufferings of the people we dearly protect – those people who are the reasons why we do what we do.
One way to prepare is to ensure that we are covered with critical illness through Health Insurance.
Prepare not because we expect things to happen. Prepare because we cannot leave anything to chances.