Faith, Health and Fitness

Single mom fights her son’s battle against cancer

Facebook statuses are so helpful! That’s how everything started for me and what I’m gonna share with you right now.

August 24, I saw Paolo Bernaldo’s status read: miofightscancer.blogspot.com. I checked out the site as soon as I saw the link for two reasons: 1. it’s got the word CANCER (and you all know what my heart is about cancer) 2. I thought it might be the Mio that Paolo and I worked with before.

As I read thru Jasmine Mendiola’s blog, my heart broke. Jasmine is a single mom. Her son Mio, who’s five years old (kinda like Kristo, my son’s age) has just been diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL.  Here’s how Jasmine explains what ALL is:

ALL is the kind that’s rapidly developing and in the doctor’s way of explaining it to my son, the enemy is attacking his body fast. Invading would be the right term to use. An excess of white blood cells (which ironically is what I lack in thus my weird skin- evident blood disorder) is suffocating all the other healthy cells in his bone marrow and signals his anti-bodies otherwise.

That’s how I understood it but to be honest, I don’t get it; I don’t get it how my bouncing baby boy born with healthy bones, ten toes, ten fingers and grew up with twenty healthy teeth can have cancer; I don’t get it how my son who irks at paint or crayon stains on his hands, asks for alcohol after he pees or holds money, chose to be a vegetarian, hates softdrinks and candy (which I’ve been trying to shove down his throat, believe me) and takes his time with chocolates and ice cream would be so ill; I don’t get it how a child born and raised by hundreds of my friends, schoolmates and family—loved even by strangers, would have this disease.

photo from www.jazzmendiola.multiply.com
photo from http://www.jazzmendiola.multiply.com

Just knowing that Jasmine is a single mom too and that our boys are almost the same age made me look for her email address. I just had to send her a message as soon as I could. I didn’t have to read her every entry to know that I wanted to help her and Mio, in any way I could….any way Kristo and I could.

I was happy to get a reply from Jasmine the next day. I was also grateful to see other people re-posting Mio and Jasmine’s link on their facebook statuses. Most of the posts mentioned that they don’t know Jasmine or Mio personally, but they were encouraging people to check out the site. Good, I thought. More and more people are gonna get to know about Mio.

I also found this on my facebook wall that morning:

facebook-carla

My heart skipped a beat as soon as I saw Mio’s picture on my wall….and when I sent Jasmine an email the day before, it didn’t even occur to me that we could possibly have common friends  (and I just found out today that we have so many other common friends!)  It doesn’t end there. Later that day I told my best friend Aia about Mio and Jasmine and had her check out Jasmine’s blog. Aia was really moved too. A few hours later, Aia gets a text message, an invitation to play at a possible fundraiser for her friend’s friend’s son who has cancer. A follow-up message reads: “His name is Mio”…..my heart skipped a beat or two again. I couldn’t help but thank God that just so many people were getting into this and helping out Jasmine.

MIO (from jazzmendiola.multiply.com)
MIO (from jazzmendiola.multiply.com)

Jasmine describes Mio in her first entry:

He is a bright boy with the longest lashes in the whole wide world who paints and draws in two dimensions—a far cry from a child’s usual flat sketches and stick figures. He is the shy boy who dances to the beat of the drums and wants to be an artist.

by Mio Mendiola
by Mio Mendiola

As I read on…Jasmine totally captured my heart..and mind…. (as you read on, you’ll know why). Jasmine writes:

The fact that people bother and hover him actually delights him while massaging his ailing foot or scratching his wounds under the blanket if only to hide his discomfort from me and his visitors. He knows he’s sick and yet he remains thankful to God in our evening prayer for the toys he receives, for the nurses and the medicine that will help his owie go away. I have yet to give him the world I promised him.

I think you’ll all agree when I say that Mio deserves this army. His childhood is the war I wage. I’ve always thought I had forever with my little boy and I used to just want it to pass us by so he can be a grown man, the kind who is everything good, smart, healthy and handsome.

I’ll have to put that on hold and fight this battle NOW. And because he was born to a drama queen, I am torn between the honor of playing the hardest role I have yet encountered in my whole theatrical career or the anguish of putting up a strong face amidst this ultimate test in life.

I have nothing but your love and support although I hate being over-bearing. But like any parent, I will beg, borrow or steal. But we are good people with kind hearts. I can only ask for you to rally the gates of heaven so my son—and all the other children in the world unjustly suffering this illness to have a chance at a normal and yes, dramatic life.

I can only take it one day a time. And today, if I have to remain grateful and open to what tomorrow brings, I can only be sure that my son has turned into an instrument of love and prayer. He has always been, always will be yet here we are only realizing it now.

I plea that you continue fighting with me. Mio can teach us many things everyday and I vow to allow him to do that in his little ways. Help me help him. Please.

photo from miofightscancer.com
photo from miofightscancer.com

I’m totally in. I’m all signed up for the army in believing for Mio’s complete healing. How about you? Would you keep Jasmine and Mio in your prayers everyday. Jasmine said today is chemo day for Mio. Please pray that Mio won’t feel the effects of chemo. (Some of you may think that this is impossible, but I disagree. I believe prayers like this work! I’m sure that Mio would feel the difference.  So would you please believe with us?)

I don’t know how to tell you or where to start…to share how a nunber of things have changed for me since I started reading about Jasmine and Mio. Like I mentioned earlier, Jasmine has captured my mind and heart thru sharing their stories. She has said quite a number of things I can totally relate to (as a single parent who’s totally in-love with her boy), and I’ve mentioned some of them to her. But one thing for sure I cannot claim, I can never say that I know what it’s like or that I understand what she’s going thru…. `coz I don’t. Seeing one’s dad have cancer is not the same as seeing one’s kid have cancer. I have no idea what it’s like to be in Jasmine’s shoes…but one thing I’m sure of — we’re in the same boat when it comes to our views about cancer — we aren’t taking it sitting down. We both believe that it has NO RIGHT to be in anyone’s body. The enemies in Mio’s body are dying as we speak 🙂

To read Jasmine’s blogs about Mio, go to http://www.miofightscancer.com. Aside from reading Jasmine’s stories about Mio, check out the different ways you can help them out. I will soon have a Mio CAN!!! I’ll be going around with it wherever I go, so if you see me, be sure to have some change (or bills) ready 🙂

Jasmine also sent me a text message this afternoon, hopefully some of you would be interested to join us:

We need volunteers! If you have time and a cause to help Mio and other cancer stricken kids fight cancer and live a normal life, join us! We need passionate people to help mount several projects.  Shout an email to miofightscancer@gmail.com with subject VOLUNTEER and write your contact numbers, email, age, current job/school/course/level, choice of project if there is. General Assembly is at Resto Pino Bar along Maginhawa St. on Monday, September 7. (you may forward or repost this to those who may be interested)

I am excited to finally meet Jasmine and Mio soon. I will keep you guys posted for sure!! Please keep Mio and Jasmine in your prayers, ok? Remember, miracles happen every day! Are you ready to see another miracle? 🙂

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