Friday, August 31, 2012

Thank God For Friends!

Like both my parents, my brother and I agree that our true riches are our friends. I can definitely say the same for N. The real ones are those who don't disappear into thin air when the road gets bumpy. They're the ones who, in fact, reach out to you even when you don't seek them. This became more obvious to us the minute my Dad passed away. 

Now that my family and I are going through another trial involving my health, we are seeing the same affirmation in the presence of people and their constant urge to reassure us.

My social life was busy yesterday for a change! 

After that unexpected meeting with Dr. Chen of Fuda Cancer Hospital, I had lunch with my Mommy friends from school. I met and became close to them because all our girls are cheerleaders in the school's Pep Squad. Before Anissa quit the varsity this school year, she was a cheerleader for 5 years. That's how long I've known these women and how long we've been together in supporting our children at every competition and performance. Thanks for the fab lunch and the very encouraging words and support! 

Prayer Warriors Cheerleading Division
Hahaha so cute!
(Lunch was at Cibo in Shang Mall)

Later that evening, I was off to another "friendly" gathering. This time, with my tried and tested, super tibay, super lakas, laging maaasahan Super Friends!

Dinner was at Sariwon Korean Barbecue in Boni High Street Central. Sorry, no food shots. I arrived late and by the time I got there, I was famished! All I could think of was what to eat and how to eat everything in sight. I'm sure I wasn't just hungry, the food was really good!

Prayer Warriors Super Friends Division
(spanning grade school, high school and college!)

I had a really huge refill of positivity and good vibes yesterday (not that I needed one desperately). So ladies, you deserve a standing ovation for being the kind of friends anyone would be forever grateful to have (and to hold, in sickness and in health LOL)!

Very few people can boast about having friends this long. I am so blessed to be one of them!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ask And You Shall Receive

I have heard this bible verse a million times (OA, but you know what I mean). I've probably asked for things and received them in the past, but never on a scale as huge as this.

But first, a back grounder ... 

A few nights ago, I finally decided to focus on finding out more about Fuda Cancer Hospital in China,  and tweeted to ask if anyone who was following me had any first-hand information about this much talked about medical facility. My good friend, Pia, retweeted my tweet. That same evening, she also texted to tell me that she found someone who has a direct link to the Philippine office of Fuda Cancer Hospital. I replied that I would bring it up with N and text her the next day. But I totally forgot to get back to her.

Today for some reason, N again talked to me about Fuda and his findings. He was on the phone with someone from the local office, who told him that she could help if we ever have any difficulty setting an appointment. I then paused because I realized how confused I was. My surgery (at Medical City) is set for September 10. If I consider an overseas facility, my window might not be big enough and I don't want to waste too much time sitting around. 

This was beginning to look and feel like a real dilemma. 

I then decided it was time to surrender this again to Him. I slightly panicked because I didn't want this concern to disturb my inner peace. It's a major decision that I have to make. I needed His help, there was no denying that. For the next 5 minutes, I prayed and asked for guidance. I told Him, I didn't know what to do, but He does. I trusted Him to point me in the right direction. 

We were ready to leave the house for my lab tests so we did. While on the road, I got a text from Pia, asking if I had made a decision about consulting with Fuda here. Just seconds after, my phone was ringing. Pia called to say that she was in touch with that friend (at that precise moment!) who had a link to the office and all it had to take was for me to give the go signal. That friend would then call up her contact to set it all up TODAY because the Chinese doctor who entertains inquiries is going back to China also TODAY! A few minutes later, she texted me back to confirm that my appointment is at 11am. I had an hour to get there! 


We hadn't gotten far from the house so we turned around to get my records. In a little over half an hour, we were at the Linden Suites in Ortigas Center, ready to meet with Dr. Chen from Fuda. The discussion lasted more than an hour. She had a rather thick accent but spoke English fluently. Some of the things she told us, we were hearing for the first time. There was nothing bad about this consultation session though. She pretty much confirmed everything after going through my medical records. The only difference is that Fuda Cancer Hospital has a totally different approach. 

(I won't be extremely detailed yet. I'll reserve all of that for a future entry.)

Meantime, I am still so overwhelmed with relief that the Lord was so quick to respond to my need for guidance and discernment!!! I was in tears because I felt an inexplicable kind of comfort.

He didn't stop there though. During the meeting with Dr. Chen, I again got a message from my friend, Chell, asking me to get in touch with a friend of hers who had experienced the treatments at Fuda and had wonderful things to say about it. Since I had a lunch date with friends, it was N who reached out to Chell's friend. I later on found out from N what a fruitful conversation he had with this person. I truly felt that God was making his point so clear!

I am always at a loss for words everytime I experience God's presence. I wish I had the right words to describe how it feels to be blessed this way. But God's ways are so perfect, that is all I can say. 

Thank you, Lord!!! More please?

(Have we decided to go with Fuda? We are certainly getting there but are giving ourselves a bit of time to finalize our decision. So far, we have heard only good things about Fuda Cancer Hospital --- from the kind of treatments they have, the success rate, even the way they take care of their patients. One good feedback after another.) 

Make That Change - Which is the lesser evil?

This is a really insightful article I found. I was excited while going through it and maybe you'll have fun trying to guess the answers, too. While more and more people are eating healthy, not everyone does. So if you've vowed to be careful about what you eat but get invited to a party where a whole spread of sinful food is served, what do you do? 

Good question!
If faced with these food choices, which do you think is the lesser evil?

I had fun going through these photos and making guesses with N.

A hotdog or a hamburger?
Answer : the hamburger

Even if the hotdog is the fat-free type, the salt content will be a bit too much. Salt will raise the blood pressure and everyone knows that's bad for the heart.

Potato Salad or Coleslaw?
Answer : Coleslaw

Coleslaw is about 80% cabbage. It is a cruciferous vegetable (never heard of that classification before) and can help protect against cancer. Potato Salad has just too much calories, fat and sodium.

Fried Chicken or Steak?
Answer : Steak (N and I both got this right!)

With all the fat on the fried chicken, the red meat still wins this round. It's still a source of protein and iron. When taken in moderation, it can't be so threatening. The fried chicken breast, on the other hand, contains about 728 calories (YIKES!!!) and 37 grams of fat (GULP!!!).

Barbecue Sauce or Ketchup?
Answer : Ketchup

It has fewer calories and less salt

Sweet Tea or Soda?
Answer : Sweet Tea

But the article says, if you have to choose Sweet Tea, it's better if it's homemade. If it's commercial or store-bought tea, you'll be better off ditching both these choices and going for plain old water.

Peanuts or Chips:
Answer : Peanuts

Peanuts are said to be more filling, so you'll eat less of them compared to the chips. Plus, peanuts contain fiber and protein.

Brownie or Chocolate Chip Cookie?
Answer : Chocolate Chip Cookie (Yay!!!)

This one's something I'm hearing for the first time. When it comes to dessert, you're better off choosing the smaller-sized one. In this case, choose the cookie if it's the regular sized kind and not the giant ones.

From among all of the above, I'm probably going to have the most difficult time with the drinks and dessert. Sweet tooth, kawawa ka naman, I'm gonna have to starve you from now on! 

But isn't this article so helpful? 

Source (including photos) :

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Make That Change - Green Smoothies

One of the things I need to do is to start looking at several things : 

What I eat
What I drink
Bad habits I need to kick 

I've been receiving so much advice from people, I can't count how many! A very dear friend pointed me to these online sellers of Green Smoothies

They both look so promising. Best part? One is in Wack Wack and the other somewhere in San Juan. So near where I live! I can't wait to try their best-selling flavors and share my thoughts on them here.


Thank you, Pao and Mon Mon for telling me about them :)

On Positivity

I'm learning so much on this journey. One of the first pieces of advice I received from people, and the one that keeps popping up every now and then is to STAY POSITIVE.

But when you're given news that has the tendency to suck all the positive energy out of you (and in my case it was already depleted to begin with), how do you do it? It's not easy at all.

Truth be told, I cried buckets when my OB-Gyne first reacted to the lump in my breast. I saw her facial expression change slightly and it alarmed me to the point that it made my mind work overtime. I cried in the car while leaving the hospital and even when I got home. I cried that night when everyone was asleep. All these thoughts just came to me and they stayed in my head, not wanting to leave. I felt burdened and so afraid for what was to come. But I think I overdid it, really. It was just day one and I honestly had no idea how things would turn out. Fear and worry took over too soon and they enveloped my entire being and almost paralyzed me. That went on until the next day when I went to meet my breast surgeon for the first time. By the end of those 48 hours, I felt so deflated. It had only been 2 days and even then, still no confirmation of anything, and yet I truly felt exhausted.

I've always believed that a person gravitates towards his own thoughts. The mind is so powerful, it can take control of you and your entire being. At this point, I realized that I was letting my mind do just that, and it was slowly consuming me. All the negative thoughts were eating me up and making me feel so wasted!!! This is what people meant when they said it wasn't going to be easy but you just have to take the wheel and steer things in the right direction. Otherwise, poor you.

I decided to take stock of things when I realized how badly beaten I felt so early in the game. And well, the rest is history. I am where I am today and I owe it all to the one up there. I prayed for strength, for Him to take away all the bad feelings and replace them with comfort and hope. I surrendered everything to Him and begged him to help me. That was all it took.

The next day, it was all GONE!!!

So while there is no sufficient medical proof that a positive attitude can make your illness go away, it plays a huge role in the healing process nonetheless. All I know is that the body responds to whatever the mind tells it to do. If my mind keeps telling my body that I'll be okay, what do I stand to lose?

Best of all, hindi ako papangit! :)))

So repeat after me ...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This Song : The Answer to the Million Dollar Question

I first heard this last Sunday and its message touched me so much, I wanted to share it to all.

My faithful Father, enduring Friend
Your tender mercy’s like a river with no end
It overwhelms me, covers my sin
Each time I come into Your presence
I stand in wonder once again

Your grace still amazes me
Your love is still a mystery
Each day I fall on my knees
Your grace still amazes me
‘Cause Your grace still amazes me

Oh, patient Saviour, You make me whole
You are the Author and the Healer of my soul
What can I give You, Lord, what can I say
I know there’s no way to repay You
Only to offer You my praise

It’s deeper, it’s wider
It’s stronger, it’s higher
It’s deeper it’s wider
It’s stronger, it’s higher
than anything my eyes can see

Everyday, people ask me how I do it. My Dad passed away only 3 months ago. So soon, I'm faced with another trial. It is too painful to understand, for some who are really close to me and they've cried over it, thinking how difficult it must be to be in my position.

This song is very special to me and I believe there's a reason it was introduced to me last Sunday. It's no longer any wonder why I've managed to stay positive and happy, despite the circumstances and that "double whammy" that people are referring to. Please pay attention to the chorus of the song to have an idea about how I've been feeling and what I owe this calmness to.

Needless to say, I am BLESSED beyond measure, because it is an amazing thing to feel so at peace and free from worry. This gift has allowed me to go about my life as usual and not be a burden to anyone, it has allowed me to continue being there for my children and provide strength and inspiration to them, it has kept me open to receiving all the gifts that God wants to shower me with so that I won't have to dwell on the problem.

There are some who are worried that I might be trying so hard to put up a brave front and I might break down sooner or later from all the stress of holding it back. Funny but I'm not pretending to be alright. Neither am I saying that I have never ever shed tears over this. Uhmmm...not a robot, okay? I do cry and I cry whenever I feel the need to. So there.

But really, the grace of God surpasses my understanding and it truly erases every bit of doubt, fear and worry in my mind and heart. I can't convince people enough but this is the truth. You will know when you find yourselves in my shoes and believe me, I want everyone, at some point in their lives, to experience it because it is such a precious gift!!!

Not to forget! My Dad is probably giving it his all in interceding for me. I am not Daddy's girl for nothing!

Have a beautiful start of the work week everyone!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Getting a Second Opinion

There was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to get a second opinion about my condition. But just to make it clear, it wasn't because we didn't trust the initial findings. We simply wanted to hear the opinion of a second medical professional, so we could compare, if there were any differences noted.

The day after the diagnosis, N and I found ourselves at the UST Hospital to meet up with the Dad of my brother's girlfriend who is a surgeon, too. Not a breast surgeon but a surgeon nonetheless, with many years of experience. He looked at my scans a few days before I was diagnosed and pretty much confirmed everything my breast surgeon had told me back then.

Thankfully, the second opinion was the same as the first. Of course I would've wanted it to be different .. better! It wasn't but what's important is it also wasn't worse. Relief! After the usual physical exam (which was really more thorough), the doctor sat us down and explained everything in great detail. Other than what we already knew, he also told us these :

Lymph Nodes not compromised
Zero Metastasis
Stage is 2A which is more specific than the original clinical finding by my surgeon

Did you see that? Lymph Nodes NOT compromised and zero metastasis? You can't imagine what it felt like to hear those words!!! I couldn't but I really wanted to shout for joy. Needless to say, the clinical finding is not the final word. It's always the pathological finding, which will come after my surgery and after the entire lump is taken out and scrutinized. But really ... I didn't care much. All I know is that a doctor (a more experienced one at that), told me that the cancer cells have not spread to my lymph nodes. Wonderful music to my ears!!! After a few more questions, we kissed him and his wife goodbye, said our thank you's and left the hospital in high spirits.

I find myself smiling everytime I think about that afternoon, because that was really huge news to me. I know that the main reason for this positivity is the great faith I have in the good Lord, which can only be the result of all the prayers being said for me.

I know you're all storming heaven and I remain humble and grateful to all.

Tomorrow, I'll start undergoing pre-surgery tests (the usual gamut of blood tests, ultrasounds and ECGs) to help me prepare for the big day. I'll also be sitting down again with my breast surgeon and hopefully, the reconstructive surgeon, so I can finally make that all-important decision!

God bless all of you!!!

P.S. Here's my personal take on the 2 surgeons I've seen so far. Please note that the first one is 40 years old and the one who gave the 2nd opinion is all of 62 years. Their approach is totally different, for obvious reasons. The more mature surgeon has been practicing medicine a lot longer and never had to depend on technology or machines when he was younger. Through the years, I'm sure he has really mastered the art of just using his hands. It was those hands which examined me and told him my lymph nodes were still okay and untouched. Whereas the younger surgeon didn't want to commit anything to me and said she would only be able to confirm once I'm on the operating table and in surgery. I can't really say that I trust one more than the other. All I'm saying is that, experience is not something to be taken for granted.

So, I'm a Stiletto!

A high school batch mate posted this on my Facebook wall last night. Don't you just love it? 

I do!!! Thank you, Melanie!!! 

The Hanging Question on Breast Reconstruction

The thing I need to decide on is whether to have simultaneous breast reconstruction surgery or not. This means that after the mastectomy is concluded by the Breast Surgeon, the Plastic Surgeon steps in to reconstruct the breast. If I get this procedure done, I will wake up after surgery with two breasts still! 

But since things have been happening so fast and the two procedures will be done one after another, as a patient, I'm entitled to study my options and weigh the facts before I say YES. 

Off-hand, this sounds like it doesn't pose any disadvantage whatsoever. I've learned that the main reason women opt to have simultaneous reconstructive surgery is so that they can avoid being depressed or stressed out during the following months when treatments take place. It will be stressful enough to undergo chemotherapy (for some), and looking at an empty slate on your chest may contribute to the stress even more. Makes so much sense, right? 

Initially, my thought was this : "I don't really care about losing one breast. I just want all the crap taken out of my body so I can go on with my life!" That, according to my Breast Surgeon, is a normal reaction. She's heard it so many times from her patients before. But she told me not to make a hasty decision because I have some time to think it over. 

It's already Monday, I need to go back to her tomorrow so we can talk about scheduling the surgery, and yet I haven't decided if I want this or not. If you ask N, he's leaning towards the recon surgery. Errrrr .... he's a MAN and even if he doesn't admit it, I know why! LOL!!! Seriously though, I know him so well. It's not for selfish reasons. He's not the shallow kind. In his mind, if you can avoid any future issues like depression or any type of psychological problem, why not do it? 

I, on the other hand, have been told (especially by my Aunts who are survivors) that they don't think I need it, seeing how strong I've been since this all began. They feel I'm mature enough to handle seeing only one breast everyday for the rest of my life. Besides, if I change my mind, I can still get it done in the future. The only disadvantage to this is that obviously, I go under the knife a second time. 


My Breast Surgeon has a partner who can take care of the reconstructive procedure. Her name is Dra. Yen Asedillo and I've been told she's very, very good. It's a really small world we live in. The day after I was diagnosed, I was chatting with a very good friend who asked me who my (proposed) reconstructive surgeon will be. When I said the name, she excitedly told me that Dra. Asedillo is her brother's sister-in-law and that she is well-known and trusted by many. 

I found this on her Facebook page 

I totally understand what's going to happen, thanks to this and to my breast surgeon's initial explanation. I'm also waiting to meet Dra. Asedillo so I can personally hear her side.

The really big question that hangs on top of my head right now though is 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Love Sundays

We began our day by going to church at 10. Although it shouldn't really matter what time of day anyone worships, I've always thought that doing so before anything else really makes a difference.
(Thank you, Lord, for the specific messages for me --- major goosebump moment which made me cry!)

I started using this wallpaper on my iPhone today

One of my cyber friends gave it to me. I love the colors. I'll keep it on my screen for as long as I need to. Thank you for this, Trisha!!! 

It came from one of many cyber friends who have sent their well wishes to me. I love the colours and I'm going to keep it for as long as I need it. Thank you, Trisha!!! 

The entire family went to Power Plant Mall today, to lend support to Mama's friends who were participating in a bazaar type event (I forget the name). One of them was selling handmade religious jewelry and accessories. Mama bought this bracelet for me. I'm glad the colors are so easy to match so I can wear it all the time. Thank you, Mama!!!

Lastly, I ran out recently so I bought this from Bench.
Let me just say that among the three scents available, this is my favorite Daphne Home Scent. It makes our room smell like a haven of relaxation. The Madonna and Child is actually part of a rosary, given to me by the same friend of Mama's who made the bracelet above.

Sundays are always happy. It's the day I look forward to the most each week. 
It's going to be even more special starting now. 

How was yours? 

Day 11 : The Diagnosis

Day 12 - August 23, 2012
The day my life changed

INVASIVE DUCTAL CARCINOMA Stage 2A (early stage, thank GOD!!!) or more simply put, Breast Cancer. My surgeon confirmed it on this day. N and I sat down on her visitors' chairs and were told, "It's not good..."

I recall hearing those words like they were said a few seconds ago. It's been 3 days since then and I've never been the same.

It took me 3 days to start writing about it here, not because I had to recover from shock or anger. I didn't want to be abrupt, I wanted to make sure that every word is meant and comes from the heart.

My first reaction to the news? I paused for about 5 seconds when my surgeon said the words and then immediately, I buckled down to business. What's next? When do we do it? How is it going to be done? If there weren't a few others waiting for their turn at the clinic, I would've spent an hour or more just asking questions about my condition and how best to deal with this CRAP that's taken residence inside my body. But I had to keep it short so I made sure I covered only the most important ones, the ones my family will surely be asking me as soon as I tell them the news.

Anger was never an option. It would have taken up precious time, the time I needed to focus on praying and gathering information about this illness. Shock? Maybe a little. But it was so little, it hardly showed. Fear? I'm human, of course I'm scared. But it's not enough to bring me to a point where everything falls apart. My surgeon, before we left the clinic that afternoon asked me, "Did you know what was coming? Did you have a strong feeling that your lump was malignant?" I said, of course not! I was surprised and asked her why she was asking me that. She replied that it was what she thought, based on my reaction, which was totally calm and non-emotional. I didn't realize how quietly I took the news until she told me that. For this, I have to thank all those who prayed for me, because those prayers gave me the strength to accept God's will.

Breaking it to my family wasn't easy. After all, we're all still officially in mourning. However, I was amazed that I remained calm while I spoke to my Mom and Anissa. N took care of breaking it to my brother. I didn't have to convince myself not to cry while explaining things to them. I just didn't cry at all. My strength was coming from a higher power and I knew it in my bones.

Honestly, I worry more about the people around me because some of them didn't take the news too well. A few of my closest friends had to compose themselves first before deciding to call me up. Some have not even called because they're too emotional still. I wish they would so they could see how okay I am and I could comfort and reassure them.

It's been 3 days since I learned I have Breast Cancer. I don't feel much of a difference. I wake up each morning like usual, only 10 times blessed. The past 3 days have been so normal, just like any other day. The only difference? I feel loved like never before.

GOD'S LOVE IS MOST EVIDENT. He has filled me with the Holy Spirit and that's why I don't feel the need to worry or fear too much. This is such an amazing gift! To be able to say, "Oh crap! I have breast cancer!" and not throwing a fit or feeling sorry for myself.

I AM SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO CARE. The prayers haven't stopped. I know because this is precisely why I am strong and determined to beat this shitty illness.

I AM THANKFUL. This is so much better than having to worry about my kids' health. I wasn't spared but they were. That, to me, means so much and I will always be grateful for it.

IT'S BREAST CANCER, the most treatable kind and the easiest to manage. I am soooooooo blessed to have caught it in time!!! Two of my aunts (Mom's sisters) are survivors. I don't have to look far to see that this is not a death sentence.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your infinite love
For the gift of Your grace and for the courage I hold in my heart, which can only come from YOU
Strengthen me more as I begin my journey towards healing
Grant me the patience to continue to be still as I allow Your able hands to work on me
Continue to fill me with hope and positivity because these are what have made me understand why You put me in the exact place I am in right now
Never ever allow me to live in doubt or fear because I don't want to miss seeing all the great things You have lined up for me
Bless all those who have prayed for me and are still praying for me, for their love and genuine concern are what I need to reassure me on the not-so-good days
I know that the journey is just beginning and I'm never alone because You've brought me here and You'll be with me every step of the way
I thank you for these circumstances, which have helped me see things the way I've never ever seen them before
I'm ready for this challenge because You have strengthened me and given me the courage to face it with hope in my heart and complete confidence in You

So yes, I have the dreaded Big C and I'm officially a breast cancer patient.

One day, I will be cancer-free and you can call me a SURVIVOR.

Game face on!!!

(P.S. I've decided that I want to continue to chronicle my experience here, while writing about all the other stuff I'm so used to sharing --- fashion, parenting, food, travel. Someday, I'd like to be able to read back and see what I've gone through and be amazed at how God has helped me weather this storm.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 10 : The Day Before The Day

Today was Monday, because people went back to work and the kids returned to school. I had the whole day to myself at home and while I would normally be restless (yup, I'm sometimes still not used to this stay-at-home-Mom role), today was so different. 

I continue to be thankful because the calmness in my heart was and is still there. I found the time to meditate and pray the rosary after N left for work and while the house was so quiet. It felt so good to be able to do that. 

Except for Anissa who was dismissed from class at 430 but wanted to go straight to Club Gymnastica with her team mates to train, everyone is home. The house is noisy again, thanks to Sabine, and I'm now quietly updating my blog while waiting for some TV show episodes to download completely so I can immerse myself in them while waiting to get sleepy.

Tomorrow is THE day I get my chest biopsy results.

Lord, please continue to hold my hand
Daddy, thank you for interceding for me. Don't stop now!
Mama Mary, thank you for your comforting, motherly embrace

A new chapter in my life begins tomorrow!!!

Oh Mom!

My Mom sent me this text at around 11pm last night right before she slept

If God solves your problem, you have faith in His abilities. If God doesn't solve your problem, He has faith in YOUR abilities. Tough times are like physical exercise. You may not like it while you are doing it, but tomorrow you will be stronger because of it.

God will bring you to a point of weakness for that's what it takes to bring you to trust Him, because you will never know that God is all you need until He is all you have got. 

Jesus, immerse me in Your Sacred Heart!!! 

It's beautiful, to say the least. I especially like the line which explains why God brings you to a point of weakness. It is SO TRUE. For if we felt strong and problem-free, we could easily forget all about Him. 

"My Mom will make everything okay." - Roo (from Pooh's Heffalump Movie)

She always does!

Happy mid-week to all!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 9 : Closer to the truth

Has it really been 9 days since I discovered this lump? Wow! That means 2 more sleeps and I'll be back inside my doctor's clinic to find out once and for all. I still refuse to say it. No, I'm not in denial. It's just that I've worked so hard to rid myself of negativity, because I don't want my physical being to suffer. I've been focused only on the positive these past 9 days. I had to be.

At first, I thought that the long weekend was such a disadvantage. I would have to wait longer to see my biopsy results. It turned out to be just the opposite of that. I got to reflect and pray a lot, plus I got the chance to spend quality time with N, my kids and the rest of my immediate family. I've been so at peace and normal as normal could be. God has worked so hard on me ever since this all started. That's why despite the situation and how a lot of people feel about it (worried, scared, what not), I'm really, sincerely doing well.

Today was rather lazy. We only got off our b*tts late in the afternoon to join Mom for dinner at my parents' condo. After a really quick stop at the church nearby (Padre Pio), we proceeded to see Mom and we ate so much as usual.

People might be wondering how I'm doing as I get closer to Thursday. I can't lie. There's a small part inside of me that's nervous and maybe slightly scared. But not in a doubtful kind of way. Does that make any sense at all? What I mean to say is, I'm kind of on the edge of my seat and yet I'm calm and not panicky at all. I guess it's normal right? I'm supposed to see my doctor in less than 48 hours because my test results are coming out. I don't think anyone will NOT be just a tiny bit nervous about something as huge as this.

I know that the Lord continues to watch over me with His loving eyes. I'm certain that my Dad is doing the same, while vigorously knocking on heaven's doors with his prayers. If only for that, I'm really grateful and I don't feel like I'm alone at all.

Tomorrow, the kids are going back to school after the long weekend. I'll have a lot of quiet time at home which I can use to pray.

Thank you, dear Lord, for never leaving my side for a second.

I love You with all my heart!!!

Worrying vs Peace

See my bio on the left side of this page? I'm an over-protective Mom. As such, I am also a panicky Mom, a worry wart in general. But up until now, I always worried about the most trivial matters. 

Last week, I found myself worried 10 times over. I don't remember having panicked more. But well-meaning people around me helped me get out of that dark spot almost as soon as I found myself in it. 

I received countless messages telling me to BE POSITIVE and to not entertain any negative thoughts. They all told me, "Easier said than done but you have to because you can't be stressed." If it would help, also refrain from discussing what "could be" and thinking "what if...". Just focus on being healed and saved from this crisis for now. But I couldn't do it, not on my own. So I isolated myself from the rest of the world for a few minutes and prayed. 

I remember saying these words,

Lord, I come to you in all humility because I know You are all-knowing and your love is powerful and infinite. I am scared. I need YOU. Please take this burden from me because I can't handle it. I want to trust in You whole-heartedly but my fears have kept me from doing so. Forgive me for being in this condition, because I know I am not dealing with this problem the way You want me to. I ask for Your mercy and Your help. Take me out of this dark place that I am in, so that You can begin to work on my healing. I know You will hear me and grant me my prayer. 

Soon enough, I felt the burden lifted from my shoulders. That heavy feeling was gone. I was okay and I no longer felt the need to cry and feel scared. I simply asked HIM to take over. I think that's all HE was waiting for me to do. I haven't cried nor felt down or fearful since that day, not even when I felt nervous right before my chest biopsy last Friday. 

Everytime I feel a negative thought beginning to enter my mind, I immediately close my eyes to pray and drive it away. It continues to amaze me that this "trick" always works. 

I'm not saying it's all going to be good from now on. If that were the case, we would naturally feel the need to pray less and less. I'm sure God will somehow keep sending me reminders because as humans, we all have a tendency to slide, what with the many sources of temptation all around us. It will have to take constant practice for this to become an unconscious habit, but it will be so worth it. 

Here's another thing I want to share. Each of us has to have a powerful statement that we can say repeatedly each time we're in a difficult situation, to help us re-focus. It's like a mantra and all you need to do is say the phrase over and over again until you feel calmness set in.

Mine is this : Mama Mary, help me! 

If you don't have one yet, think of what you would like to use and use it all the time.

For the daughters of the late Sec. Jesse Robredo

The very sad news that we were all NOT wanting to hear came this morning

Yesterday, I surmised that this may happen, given that it's been 3 days since the crash and there's been no sign of anyone. I silently hoped for the sake of his family (and the families of the others who were with him on that flight) that the bodies would be eventually discovered. That way, they have closure. 

It's been 3 months since I lost my own father. Everything is still fresh to this day. I don't cry all the time but I miss him with a pain that I can't even begin to describe. Yet, my family and I didn't have to go through the same kind of painful waiting that Sec. Robredo's family endured these past days. That must have been the longest 3 days of their lives. Now that his body has been recovered, they can finally move forward, despite their grief. 

To the daughters of Sec. Jesse Robredo - 

I certainly have an idea about what you are all going through at the moment. The pain of losing a father all too suddenly and unexpectedly is something I can definitely relate to. One minute, larger than life. The next minute, gone and never to be heard from nor seen again. It is a life-altering experience, to say the least. I still wake up sometimes, thinking he's just around. Then when I see the rest of my family and he's not there, it hits me again. 

You have so much more to deal with and will need a lot of support from friends and other family members. I pray that you will be able to find comfort in knowing that your father was a very good man, admired by many and that his death affects the entire nation. I found so much of my strength from people who had beautiful stories to tell about how my Dad helped them and made a difference in their lives. I hope that the people around you share similar stories about your Dad, to keep you afloat in the next few days before you lay him to rest. 

It will get harder as the days go by. You will remember him with sad tears, at first. I still do. But one day I know I'll have only happy tears to shed whenever I think about my Dad. Prayers have helped a lot, so spend some quiet time everyday to pray to our Lord for comfort and to your Dad to help you move on. There is no surefire way to get rid of that lonely, nagging thought that your Dad is now gone. I know because I tried to find one but couldn't. Live the rest of your lives one day at a time and deal with your sadness and emptiness the best way you can but NEVER without calling on the Lord to hold your hands. HE will listen and HE will be there to help you get through this crisis. You need to be strong for each other, no matter how difficult it can be sometimes. But you will be surprised at how much stronger you really are. I was! 

Whenever I look back on the 4 1/2 days we spent at the Christ the King during my Dad's wake, I'm amazed at how I was able to carry on my duties as the eldest child, entertaining hundreds of people who paid their respects and granting interviews to reporters while having to worry on the side about how my Mom and brother were doing. And on top of that, looking after my children who were also devastated by this loss. I can only assume that my inner strength came from our good Lord who held me in the palm of His hand all throughout, and from all the people who expressed their sadness and their love for my Dad. 

HOLD ON TO EACH OTHER especially at this time. When the crowds have gone and when the whole world has stopped talking about their sadness, you will have only each other at the end of each day, dealing with this great loss and the pain. BELIEVE that your Dad didn't die in vain because he was such an inspiration to many. Don't forget that your Mom needs you, too. She will be the main source of strength for all three of you, but remember that there may be times that the roles will have to be reversed. 

How have I done it so far? Mostly by remembering all the good stuff. I refuse to entertain the sad parts (but it's been hard to shake certain images off, I'm only human) because doing otherwise won't help me at all. I also believe he never really left me/us. He has made his presence felt on more than one occasion, but even if that weren't the case, I know in my heart he loves us too much to simply just go. Crazy as it may sound, I also talk to him a lot - aloud or in my mind. I tell him whenever I'm sad and I report to him every time a good thing happens to me. Just as I did when he was still alive. I'm confident he hears me when I do this. I'm slowly getting used to not hearing him reply. In time, it will be easier I know. 

In closing, I would like to say it doesn't matter what the circumstances are. Losing a parent is painful PERIOD. But everything that happens to us is all part of God's divine plan. It's true that HE allows us to go through painful situations but it doesn't stop there. HE also holds our hand and never leaves us. 

I know this is true because HE has done the same for me. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 8 : Much-needed family time

Today was even more relaxing, I am so thankful!!!

We were invited by very close family friends to spend the day somewhere up North. The home we went to made me kind of want to leave the city. It was quiet, without being too far from everything (Ayala's Marquee Mall was a short drive from there). I was shy to take photos around the house because I didn't want to be intrusive. But this should give you a pretty good idea 

This is the part of the house which greets you when you walk through the gate. It's also where N and I fell asleep after a heavy and delicious lunch (oink! oink!). We couldn't help it. The place was so airy and the weather was just right. Besides, we woke up so early. Excuses excuses! Just look at how happy  Sabine was to see the bed in the lanai. Didn't waste much time, took of her shoes and jumped at the chance to relax as soon as we got there. Anissa, on the other hand, settled in the master's bedroom on the 2nd floor with our iPad and couldn't be disturbed until lunch was served.

I have so much to say about all the food our hostesses prepared for us. Did I mention that they're both Kapampangan? You know what they say about Kapampangan women, right? They're supposedly the best cooks in the Philippines.

Pako Salad, Halabos na Sugpo, Chicken Pork Adobo, Pork Sisig, Kare Kare, Fried Hito and a variety of "kakanin" (Filipino native desserts) to cap this super amazing meal. 

After that quick nap we had, we found ourselves walking back to the dining area because merienda was ready. Good Lord! So much food, I wasn't sure I was ready to eat again so soon!

The famous Susie's Pancit Palabok

Buco Lychee Sherbet

I don't remember the last time I ate so much and was so full, I couldn't get up from my seat!

Really thankful for this quiet and happy day! 

Review : NYX Slide On Pencil

I am such an 80s kid, I tell you. Except for when I'm asleep or just at home, I 'm never without eyeliner on my upper lash line or my water line. I think my eyes look like I'm recovering from an alcohol hangover everytime I'm not wearing any. 

At the Urban Bazaar in Rockwell, NYX's Slide On Pencil was one of my purchases because it came highly-recommended. Here's what the website says about the product :

(Photo grabbed from NYX website)

Don’t let the softness of this eye liner pencil fool you. Silky soft yet delivers a powerful robust color to line eyes. The formula doesnt smear or smudge and provides extreme color. It’s like a liquid eye liner in a pencil without the mess. Available in 18 intense shades.

I used it yesterday for the first time and here's what I have to say about it : 

I've never had a pencil that's as easy to use as this
It glides on like butter
The pay-off is AMAZING
It stayed put the whole time and I never had to re-apply or re-touch

This pencil is totally worth it, both for the upper lash line and the waterline! 

I used to think only liquid eyeliners can stay put on oily lids. I seem to have been proven wrong.

Get this from Digital Traincase now if you're an eyeliner freak like I am.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 7 : Our Lady of Manaoag

Since Monday, I can't say how many times I've been overwhelmed with God's presence. I prayed for comfort and strength and He sent them to me almost immediately. Many have been praying with and for me and I believe they were sent in reply to my request. The barrage of concerned messages on Facebook, Twitter and via texts have been so overwhelming, I've cried very happy tears over them. God is truly with me on this journey! 

Another affirmation was sent to me last night. One of my Mom's good friends texted her at around 9pm, informing her that Our Lady of Manaoag is on a pilgrimage and is currently at the Santuario de San Jose in Greenhills. That's about a 20-minute drive from where I live! Also, she told my Mom to tell me to hurry because Our Lady will only be there until 12 noon today. How wonderful to receive the news that I don't have to go all the way to Pangasinan just to see HER! Let me just clarify that I'm not really a devotee, but this piece of news was so timely, since I've been knocking on and storming the gates of heaven with prayers these past few days. I made a promise to wake up early today so I could see HER and I did!

I haven't seen Our Lady of Manaoag in years. I truly regret that I only saw HER again today and because I have an urgent favor to ask of HER. But I am certain she can forgive me for it. I was in awe and I'm so relieved and happy that I was able to see HER. 

The prayer to Our Lady of Manaoag:

Virgin Mother of God, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, thou who hast chosen to raise thy throne of mercy in Manaoag, to be the beloved protectress and Patron of the Province of Pangasinan, and therefrom to bestow thy graces on us, thy children, banished in this valley of tears, look down with thine eyes of mercy upon me, who am beset with so many dangers of body and soul. Despise not my petition, O Mother, but intercede for me before thy divine Son now and at the hour of my death. Amen. 

Virgin of Manaoag, pray for us. 

My day was just made complete by this visit. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for your comforting presence and for allowing me to see YOU today.