A Slim Slice of Hope


I’ve finished uploading the last of my stuff for sale this morning (my entire book collection and my Canon DSLR camera is now publicly up for grabs on my Facebook account) and finally, this piece of paper confirms that my mom now has the financial means to take that huge mass out of her uterus. It was all done out of the collective kindness of people in the internet. Before the fund raising, my mom’s husband gave out a resigned acceptance that she is to die without the funds required for her operation. The aunt I initially turned to for help last June made our situation more difficult and unbearable. And we mostly got painful words from the people I thought were our support group in a time of such a crisis.

I took consolation from my husband, my in laws, the anonymous donors, the strangers who chanced upon my When in Manila piece begging for help, and the friends on Facebook that I do not regularly talk to but are messaging me daily now. They came through right at the moment where I thought that the world is a dark and nasty place. They assisted us and it restored my faith in humanity, somewhat.

As a daughter, I refused to accept that my only option as a bedridden woman is to wait for my mom to die and listen to classical music in bed while my mom undergoes the worst leg of her health problems. No, I can’t let my mom perish like that after all the sacrifices she has done for me and the people she loves. I refused to give up on her when our other relatives are just waiting for her to die, making side comments about our plight, and pointing fingers on who should shoulder the bill. I felt despair but I still somehow had a belief that there is always a way.

I have seen people raise funds for pursuits that are not matters of life and death and they were smashing successes. I turned to crowdfunding this month to ensure that my mom gets a fair fighting chance at life despite her expensive cancer diagnosis and the very business-like model of hospital settings in the Philippines. The idea was sent by two angels in my FB inbox: Joanna Kayaban and Lulu Tan.

When I put the word out there, I was frightened. I was afraid of getting attacked online. Plus I was just expecting to get a few hundreds, maybe to add to medication or some menial matter.

I was completely overwhelmed when help came from everywhere and we managed to raise half of the amount in 7 days. I did not know that people would care that much. I figured that since I always disappear on my social media accounts, they will just ignore me. 

It was the only thing I can do in my bedridden state. This piece of paper in my mother’s hands is now her medical ticket to possibly extending her life.

I am spending the next two days funneling out the remaining donations to my cousin Joan who is in charge of fixing her PGH hospitalization requirements. My sister Harvey is also getting a little for groceries, supplies, and adult diapers that my mom needs daily.

I only raised the funds mainly for my mom’s financial needs and I have a complete disinterest in retaining the money in my bank account. I want it to to be used for the purpose it was meant to accomplish: give my mother a reasonably comfortable treatment and afford that bulk removal operation.

My husband and I will work in the remaining four months to save up again for our baby.

Now that her crucial operation is underway, I can finally turn my focus to my unborn son Santi and get my much needed time to recover and rest in bed. For the first time in weeks, I can now finally sleep in peace. But there are residues of my traumatic weeks of figuring out what to do. The fight or flight response has been up since last month and I need to work on calming myself down for the sake of my baby.

In the coming weeks, I may finally have a chance to start over with my childbirth savings with my husband’s help after every last penny has been drained from us as of end of July. But even if we became penniless, I will never regret that decision because it was for my mom’s life. No amount of money is worth more than her.You can always buy things again but you can never buy back a life once it’s gone.

Next week is the first semblance of semi-normalcy and going back to my freelance writing gigs so that I can spend the remaining four months earning money for my childbirth. Yes, I am still working in bed like I used to do in the first trimester of my pregnancy.

The remaining work on my mom’s treatment is now a giant waiting game. The human side of the work is almost done. It’s now up to the Divine Being to do the rest, if He actually exists or if He actually cares for me and my family.

It’s been massively exhausting. I just want to spend the next three days sleeping to recover fully from the trauma of the emotional repercussions and physical toll of my mom’s diagnosis in the middle of my delicate pregnancy.

Before I got semi-viral with this call for help and crowdfunding effort, I was already a very private person who only opened her Facebook account once a year and devotes her time writing articles freelance or word vomiting on this personal blog. Now, everyone knows about my diagnosis and I don’t know what that means in the long term. Will that mean I will be disqualified from work opportunities? Will that mean that I will get criticized or laughed at as that crazy girl in the internet? I figured that it does not really matter anymore because I was singularly focused on saving my mom when I did it.

I don’t know why all this had to happen but through this crisis, I was able to talk to people in similar situations. I was inspired by their fortitude and faith. I was able to reconnect to people I have not talked to in decades. I was exposed again to the social media world, but it was not as bad as I thought it would turn out. Reaching out to others was not as bad as I thought it was.

I think that after all this activity, I will still sign off and spend my remaining third trimester of pregnancy in social media hibernation and preparation for child birth’s labor. Out of force of habit, I will eventually switch off my account and use it sparsely. I genuinely want a normal birth and I want to carry out whatever reasonable birth plan I can still afford in the remaining months.

Despite this painful ordeal, I am thankful because this difficult challenge came with its life changing lessons. My paradigm of the world has changed. There are things about my incoming parenting style that will be adjusted because of recent events. 🙂 I think that strangely enough, this painful and horrible slew of unfortunate events somehow prepared me for my parenting journey by next year. It was not a difficulty that was wasted. A lot of good came out of it, somehow. Strangely, it is sort of making sense why it had to happen although at first I felt like heaven was shitting on me and my mom.

After this event, I’ve got nothing to hide to the world about myself. I was hiding in the last 2 years and I did not even realize it. I was hiding from people because probably I felt that having bipolar disorder is something I should hide. Now, I had to expose the reason for my fund raising. It meant exposing my weakness publicly, even in the face of strangers. And that exposure of my weakness turned out to be a means to find a source of collective strength from others. It’s really a humbling experience. The power of everyone’s individual contributions was enough to save a life. That mere lesson alone is worth all this pain, I think. I thought people will judge me for having a mental illness, like when my ex-friend attacked me last year on her Facebook wall just for revenge. I realized that people can still treat me normally and with respect even if I tell them about my illness, that it’s okay to ask for help, that it’s okay to be myself. 🙂

I am really exhausted but yep, I found something in my heart that I did not have for a long time now: HOPE. 🙂 It’s a slim slice but it’s there. I hope my mom survives. I hope my baby is alright. I hope for a better future.