Archive for the ‘cancer mother’ Category

So Long, Mama

The dreaded time came so very fast– my Mother’s funeral. September 30, 2007 was the hardest day of my life. I sobbed as men carried my Mother’s coffin out of the house. This would be the last time that she would enter or exit the house, ever.

The funeral march began at 1:30PM. Joseph and I, along with my family and friends marched behind the hearse carrying my mother’s coffin on the way to the (Catholic) church. We were walking in the middle of the roadway and proceeded at a snail’s pace. Along the way, people passing us tossed peso coins (by the hearse) from their vehicles. This is a Filipino practice that has folkloric origins to it. People here believe that it is bad luck to pass by a funeral march while driving, and that tossing coins would break the curse and prevent the vehicle from having any accidents on the road.

At the church, we found out that we were the 3rd in line. There was another funeral mass going on inside, and another one waiting before us. Somehow, somebody was late. My mother’s funeral was scheduled at 2:30PM but it finally started at 3:00PM. I was seated in between my father and my husband in the church, right at the pew where my mother used to love sitting when coming to the church. My father was teary-eyed as he shared this memory with me.

The mass was all in my dialect (Cebuano), so I was busy trying to translate everything to Joseph. The 30-minute ceremony was over before I knew it. The priest then asked the family members to gather around the coffin while he was blessing it with holy water and incense. I was staring at my mother, fighting the sob that was rising up my throat. One of my mother’s sister started to weep, and when I felt my father wept as well, that did it – — I couldn’t hold my tears any longer and I broke down along with my family. My husband, who is usually reserved also cried along with us. He, too, is missing my mother.

When the mass was over, the funeral march resumed. This time we were headed to the cemetery. The walk was just maybe about 10-15mins. My steps were heavy. I realized that we were nearing the end of my mother’s earthly journey.

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally standing in front of my family’s burial lot. We waited until the men brought the coffin in front of my mother’s tomb, her final resting place on earth. We were again given a few more last-viewing minutes…. This would be the last time that I would ever get the chance to stare at the face of the woman who loved me and cared for me for most of my entire life. That’s when deep sadness overcame my soul and I wept so very much, wishing I could just have my mother back, but I know this is not possible. Inside of me, I was whispering “Mama, I hope you know how much I love you. I’m sorry that I wasn’t here with you during your last moments.” As I’ve said before in my previous blogs, this is my greatest regret and to be honest, I still am having difficulty coming to terms with this.

All of my family were weeping (again) with me. Joseph, too, “lost it” when he saw my mother’s name inscribed in the headstone. Then I felt my father’s hand go up my back and said to me, “that’s enough, let her go“. And so I said my final goodbye. “Buh-bye, Mama, so long. I will see you in heaven someday”.

A minister from my (Christian) church did the committal prayer before they finally closed the coffin and pushed it inside the tomb. Indeed from dust we came and from dust we return. As Christians, our beginning and our end doesn’t matter so much. What really matters is the in between — how we lived our life and what legacy we leave behind. Both my father and I agree that my mother lived her life as best as she could. She gave her best to us as a wife and mother and we both are thankful to the Lord for her life. We will greatly miss you, Mama.

To all my family and friends, thank you so very much for all your sympathy, support and prayers. May God bless you all.

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Mama, I Love You

A few hours ago I learned that my mother, Celia Sibal-Cañedo, passed on to be with the Lord (around Sept 20th, 5:00 AM, Philippine time). If you’ve been reading my blogs, you would know that she had been undergoing treatments for breast cancer and had been fighting as hard as she could until her body finally gave out.

Everything happened so very fast that I still could not believe it.

It was just two days ago when I was on the phone with her. I know she was trying hard to speak inspite of pain. We only spoke for maybe a minute but during that brief moment, I was able to tell her that I love her and to hold on to Jesus.

Cancer may have ravaged her physical body, but I know that victory ultimately belongs to her. She is now in a better place – with Jesus – with a glorified body free of pain and suffering

My only regret is that I was not with her during the last days of her life. I would have wanted to be with her, to hold her. This is the most painful thing for me to deal with right now.

My husband and I are flying to the Philippines tomorrow, Sept. 20th. We will be in the Philippines on Saturday (Sept 22nd). We are asking for your prayers in that God would 1) encourage and strengthen us during this time of loss; 2) that our family’s needs (i.e., physical, spiritual, financial) would be met in the days ahead; 3) that the joy of the Lord will be with us knowing that Mama is no longer suffering in her physical body, and is now present with our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom she served.

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Yet Again

Another rough night yet again. I had another agonizing conversation with my mother last night. I was practically sobbing on the phone, begging for her to agree to be taken to the hospital. She was weeping herself, telling me that she doesn’t want to go to the hospital. She doesn’t want needles poking her, nor does she want to be subjected to all kinds of tests anymore. She is tired. She knows that she is nearing the end of her journey.

And the incredible thing is,
instead of me consoling my mother/parents, they are the ones encouraging me. In the midst of their seeming gloom and utter despair, my father and mother are still thinking about me, about my well-being. They want me to be brave, not wanting that I should worry so much, lest my health and my job be affected… Wow. Talk about unconditional love. Reminds me of Jesus, when at the brink of His death on the cross, still had the strength to intercede for us and cry out “Father, pls. forgive them for they know not what they are doing”. This just blows my mind.

So, I went to bed last night, soaking my pillow with tears. I can’t even begin to describe in words how I feel anymore. All I could say was “Lord….”. But He knows. He understands. And with this thought, I somehow fell asleep. When I woke up today, these words/song lyrics, kept on playing in my mind:

You are my hiding place, you shall preserve me in trouble
You shall encompass me about with songs of deliverance.
In times when I’m afraid, I will trust in You.

Think about His love, think about His goodness
Think about His grace that brought us [me] through
For as high as the heavens above,
so great is the measure of our [my] Father’s love.
Great is the measure of our [my] Father’s love.

And I pray that out of His glorious riches may Jesus strengthen my mother with power through His Spirit in her inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my mother’s heart through faith. And I pray that my mother, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that my mother may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:16-19). AMEN.

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I am not feeling too good today. I spoke with my Mother last night on the phone and learned that welts have begun to form in the skin around her right breast area, and they’re getting bigger too. In addition, the doctor informed her a couple of days ago that she definitely needs blood transfusion as her CBC count is very low. My mother is currently taking oral chemotherapy medications for her advanced breast cancer. And anemia is one of the side effects of chemotherapy. My mother is already anemic to begin with.

For those who don’t know, this crisis began a year ago when my Mom got diagnosed of breast cancer. By then, her condition was already advanced and that the cancer has already metastasized to her lymph nodes and skin. Doctors even suspect metastasis on her bones as well. After her mastectomy, she still had some of the itchy “rash” area near her armpit which the doctor said should be addressed with her radiation treatment following her surgery. However, this rash-like apprearance spread and did not respond to the radiation. Her arm and chest are now covered with rough bumpy bits – which we confirmed through a skin biopsy as indeed skin metastasis due to her cancer. My mother had 39 days of radiation therapy. But before that was even over, another crisis hit our family. This time, it’s my father.

My dad was admitted to the hospital due to extreme stomach ache and diarrhea, which later led to bleeding. He was taken to the ICU for observation due to his age (76 yrs) and diabetes. After a colonoscopy, it was confirmed that my dad had a mass in the sigmoid area of his colon (just above the anus) and is 90% obstructing his intestines. And to top it all, his cardiologist discovered that he has multiple clogged arteries in his heart and would need a bypass! His conditiona is called coronary artery disease with triple vessel disease/left main (CAD w/TVD/LM). Whew! When it rains, it really does pour, huh? I can go on and on about what happened, but in a nutshell, since the doctor’s couldn’t perform a normal explore-laparoscopy on my dad due to his weak heart, they did a colostomy instead. This was a quicker procedure whereby they just went in, cut his intestines to redirect it to his tummy inorder to bypass the anus. In short, my dad would now have to poop thru the hole in his tummy into a bag. Am I detailed enough??? Anyways, after 24 days and scary hospital bills — my dad was discharged from the hospital! Glory to God for that! During this time, God gave us peace and strength and favor and provision. He didn’t leave us nor forsake us. He is our refuge indeed in times of trouble. I saw God’s hand move over the life of my dad. He accepted the Lord, and that is the best thing that happened! Halleluiah!

But wait, God must really think that we are very strong. Because everything did not end here. Nope! While my dad was recuperating in the hospital, I took my Mom to have a breast sonogram because I was suspecting that the cancer has already spread to her other breast. And true enough, the lab test confirmed that she has a nodule growing in her right breast. My, oh my. Her surgeon is already advising against mastectomy. She also can’t have any more radiation as she’s already reached her toleration level… so that’s why she is taking an oral chemo now… which is what I spoke with her about last night and why I don’t feel so good today.

A feeling of hopelessness is beginning to rise deep within me again. But I refuse to give in. I refuse to get discourgaged. I refuse to get defeated because I know this is what the enemy wants me to feel. This is a time of warfare for me. And I know that praise is my ONLY weapon. The battle belongs to YOU, Lord, and I know I have the victory in Jesus Christ!

It has been extremely difficult for all of us in the family. And my heart goes out to my parents, to my Mom in particular. She’s been through a lot and have been brave through it all. I know that she’s in pain but wouldn’t like to show it to us because she doesn’t want us to worry. But Lord, I know that Your love for my mother far surpasses mine. Afterall, she is Your daughter too. Sometimes, my earthly mind cannot comprehend the things that you are doing. But who am I to question Your ways? I know that you have allowed all these to happen for a higher purpose.

In the meantime, I pray for grace and supernatural strength for all of us, for my parents especially, that they may be able to fix their eyes on Jesus. Give us eyes of faith that we may be able to see things as they are, though they are not-YET! Your word says NOTHING is impossible to those who believe in You..,…. and we believe, Lord. I believe. Our hope is in You! You are the miracle working Father. You are able. What you have said in Your Word, that You will do – that those who call upon Your name shall be saved. For as long as my parents are breathing, I will continue to stand on your Word. And I believe that my parents shall receive that miracle. I thank you now for that miracle. I thank You Father, for causing my parents to rise up in their bed of affliction … to the praise and glory of Your name. In Jesus name!

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