Melissa De Leon-Joseph: My Story of Freedom

Melissa De Leon-Joseph: My Story of Freedom

I was busy with my 3 children Renzo who was 14 years then, Rigo was 11 and Rebecca was 7 years old. My husband Ronnie was supportive with what I was doing in terms of work or even if I didn’t work, it was ok with him. I had just finished with a project, an afternoon teleserye at ABS CBN.  The year before the , our lunch time  show  SangLinggo Na Po Sila has just ended. I had all the time to myself and most importantly, time for Ronnie and the children. How I was enjoying it! I had time to soak myself with what I loved to do, which was to study the Word of God. So much revelation and life changing realization was happening to me. Little did I know, All of my commitments ended and it was a new chapter of my life was about to start. I realized that I was being prepared for something tough but life changing, not only for myself but to other people around me.

I started my mammogram check ups the year 2004…

In 2005, I had a lump on my left breast, it was taken out and tested and turned out, it was benign. On the same spot in August  of 2006 I had a mammogram and I was asked by a doctor to have a needle biopsy which I ignored, thinking what the doctors had seen was just the scar from my previous operation. I went to a cancer doctor instead, this time I was given options, 1. to observe or 2.to do a needle biopsy … of course I chose “observe”. The lump was getting bigger four months after early December of 2006, I had that needle biopsy. The night the phone rang, it was my doctor telling me the bad news. I was diagnosed stage 2b breast cancer.

It was like a whole pail of cold water poured all over my body as my surroundings turned black and white in color, tears rolled down my cheeks and then I was trembling.  I composed myself as I hear my children chatting up their rooms. They were getting ready for us to go out to buy items in National Bookstore. While we were out, my heart was pounding for I didn’t tell anyone about the bad news. It was as if time for me stopped and I was like a walking zombie, my mind perplexed with all sorts of things, I felt like I was going to drop dead anytime. When we got home, I saw my husband Ronnie but before I could tell him the bad news, I waited for all our kids to sleep. I had a hard time telling him, it took a lot from me because I was already feeling guilty. Until I told him I was sorry. That I will cause to unsettle the family for having breast cancer.

When I finally told Ronnie about it, he hugged me in silence, then we prayed.   The next day Dec 15, 2006, we went to the cancer doctor that told me the bad news.  After all the information he gave, we started shopping for doctors.  My family and Ronnie was so supportive, all the more I was feeling guilty because I was causing all these “abala”.

Like one particular day, it ended with my family around at my mom’s home, my husband Ronnie and I with Christopher, Pinky, Sandy, Toni, Cori (my sisters) and my brother in laws Paolo and Danny, so emotional, all the ladies were crying.  I also learned that night that previously before the meet, my brother Christopher was working, taping for a teleserye, then he got a call and was told the bad news. He sat down in one corner then suddenly he stood up and left his work and went straight were we where. Isn’t that what we call “abala”?  I even caused my mother in law so worried.  Christmas time came, by this time, Ronnie and I have not decided who  doctors to get. Still was so confused and it was adding to the stress I was going through.

It took time for us to find my surgeon I could be comfortable with. Finally I found Dr. Samuel Ang, I had a mastectomy right after New Year’s and needed 6 sessions of chemotherapy 3 weeks after.  The diagnosis of the cancer was that it was of the aggressive type so the treatment was equivalent to a stage 4 patient.

I was completely blown away by the sad news. My world turned upside down… it was devastating and painful.  Fear, worries and questions entered my mind…like…

Would I be able to handle this?
Will I see my children grow up?
Will I be a capable wife?
Will my husband and children be able to go through this?

At that point, I had only 2 choices.  Panic or pray?  I chose to pray and surrendered all my questions to God.  I prayed for Him to take over.

As I  was doing this  life story, from no where, I came across in our library my diary which I did while having  my treatment. From my diary, I wrote:

I should have agreed for the lump ito be taken out when I was asked by my first doctor, Dra Basa and my rediologist Dra. Joan Valdez. It could have been stage zero

Again I hear that chemotherapy is going to be a battle… but ey! I see it as my God’s battle and I will just hang on and focus on the Word of God … I rest on You oh Lord

It was tough accepting it. I couldn’t question God “why me?” I know that even before this all happened, God knew how my faith is, and that’s absolute.

At this point, after doing a lot of thinking, I finally told myself, this is an opportunity for me to glorify God. I realized that this trial is not about me but all about Him.  I prayed like a child, cried myself to sleep but focused on HIM and drew strength from HIS WORD.

I underwent 6 chemo therapies. Under Dra. Belen Tamayo.  Each session was tough but I knew at that point the Lord was carrying me through it.  My body was so weak I could only lie down and be oblivious to my surroundings.  I could not even pray long.  The only prayer I could pray was, “Lord hold on to me.” And He TRULY did.  HE pulled me through this and it’s just so amazing.

FROM MY DIARY
January 12 2007 (Friday)
Kalbo day!!! Raymond my brother in law shaved my hair out…. Bald!!!
I looked like an alien.

In the middle of the treatment, to be sure, my doctors had my mass extensively examined. The results revealed that my cancer was not as aggressive as previously reported and that I wouldn’t have to go through the additional and costly treatment after chemo.  Because in the beginning, I was suppose to take Herceptine, another costly treatment, but it ended up, I didn’t have to take it because apparently, my first pathology test was an error.

FROM MY DIARY

My WBC is down its March 2 (birthday of my loving husband). Got infection from a wound at the back of my head, things became complicated, my blood pressure went down by late afternoon, feeling so weak.  By night time things were not getting any better, Regi slept with me. Thanks for her backgound on nursing. The next morning I was rushed to the ER,  it was bad.  I thought I would not make it. But ey! God is good!

Now I live each day at a time.  At this point I was certain that God was my true comforter, my sanctuary, my rescuer, my strength, my rock eternal my healer.  I said to myself that this trial will not go to waste.  I have learned to be still so that He could take over.

FROM MY DIARY

I am now reading a wonderful book by Charles Stanley, God Is In Control.

Beautiful book! Comforting …

Going through chemo is like, someone is taking over your body and you are to just give in. Fatigue, weakness and feeling very tired are so common in chemotherapy, this is something else, and it’s indescribable. I feel that depression can set in anytime. Oh my … Lord sustain me, this is really difficult.

I believe that the Lord allowed this trial in my life because He is molding my character and has great plans for me.  I believe that when we respond to God correctly, the healing process begins.

Now I can stand here and say to all of you that, in my entire life, my best times with the Lord was when I was going through my treatment, and even up to now as I share what I went though and am going though, I find joy in it. My prayer now is, Lord let me do talks like this until I grow old.

FROM MY DIARY

I am so thankful for family and friends.  Ronnie who understood  and did not complain inspite of shouldering everything  in terms of finances  and was so comforting emotionally.  Our children who were so encouraging, for they handled it well , thank God for enabling them. For Regi who came almost every morning to check on me and comes back with Raymond and pray for me.  Toni my sister who also had breast cancer earlier the other year,  who would tell me information on what to expect as I do all my treatments.  Babot, who comes to visit and bring fruits and vegetable for me to take, she would also text me encouraging messages. Ida who was so caring  as always. My mom who would call me long distance and ask how I am. Cori our youngest sister would check on me too. Christopher and Pinky who were always checking, Sandy sending fruits.  Friends like Len and Maricris who was always available when I needed company. Babylyn with sister Chikit,  paid a visit after a decade of not seeing them.  Marissa Andal who flew from Bicol just to show her love and concern. Our Dgroup/bible study group Cindy, Jaja, Carrie, Em-em, Bang and Dang. Pastor John who I would always laugh with. Daboy and LT, Pipo and Lyn. And all the others who came and encouraged me.  The words for them are… comforting, encouraging, loving and caring people. I pray blessings for them Lord.

Listen to your doctors, the Lord blessed us with all this good doctors and advanced technology. Have a yearly mammogram, remember the cure for breast cancer is early detection.

FROM MY DIARY

My LAST CHEMO!!! … Thank You Oh Lord!… Thank You for carrying me through this trial.I learned more about your grace and mercy and your love. Thank You for prayers that were answered. You are truly alive! You are obviously working in my life . Now that chemo is over, I am now excited on the purpose of all these. We have done all the possible things human can do, now Lord , I pray for the impossible.  With the blood of Your Son Jesus Christ, I truly pray for total healing .Cover me oh Lord with your most precious blood. May all these be in Your hands, that I may live for You. I love You.

With this journey, I would like to take comfort on God’s promises. My faith grows and as I apply His Word in my life, I believe that maturing will challenge me to grow even more with Him. So whatever challenges I encounter, or any trial I face, I take comfort that these are God’s appointment for me and that His plan is always good.

Now, I am 8 years in remission. I am very thankful to God for I have conquered cancer.  Through prayers and support from my family and friends. I regained by strength, courage and joy.  I am now living my life to the fullest savoring all the sweetness that it can offer. From Stage 2b , I can consider my self as Stage Zero meaning cancer is nothing compared to the blessings and opportunities that it has opened to me, specially the opportunity to serve women who have experienced the same ordeal through Project Pink Cancer Support Group.

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