• Jasmine Mendiola

Hope & Humility

Yesterday was one of the most grueling days of the past few weeks.

My son wakes up with a smile on his face because he finds that I did not go to work. I tell him to eat and he, being such a considerate boy would even ask if he’s allowed to eat the fruits on the dining table or the chips he likes. “Mom, can you ask Dr. Racho if I can eat.” I told him he can ask him himself later. And then the drama unfolds:

“I’m going to the hospital again? Who will feed my Mario & Naya (his two fish)?”

“I don’t want the needles anymore! I’m tired! My left hand is still owie, Mom. And I don’t want needles on my right coz it will be painful and I won’t be able to draw or write!”

“I’ll get hungry later and I want to eat! I don’t like it in the doctor’s place!”

All these frustrations are accompanied by tears and stomping while trying to hold me in an embrace. It was like a bad break-up talk and I just wanted to let it go coz it hurt like hell. And all I could tell him was, “I’m sorry Mio this isn’t our choice but you have to do it. That’s why I keep asking you to be brave and patient.”

“I can’t be patient anymore! Even when we tell Jesus it’s still owie!”

Oops. O ye of little faith, they say. And I tried to explain to him as hard as I could that  that wasn’t true. That Jesus is making him practice how to manage the pain and get used to it. I tried to hold back the tears and I found myself sniffing all the way to the hospital because I wasn’t allowed to cry in front of him, I was told. Mio was stubborn and he was not happy.

Of course he’s not happy. Who would be if you had to:

– take four kinds of medicines round the clock

– one of them has steroids so you’re on a food trip

– you have this annoying craving to eat but you can’t eat everything

– to top it off, he had to be on fasting for at least four hours before being sedated

– yes, he had to be sedated because he had to receive the chemo through his spine

– but before that, he had to get a CBC

– after that blood test, he has to take vincristine simultaneous to the intrathecal medicine which was quickly injected on the back of his hand

– then a dose of ketamine to put him to sleep!

– and that doesn’t end there! They had to inject the anesthesia on his back in three points encircling…

– the big needle

that’s a total of seven needles! Mio was practically a pin cushion. What’s nice about Mio though is that no matter how angry he was, he never said he was angry at Dr. Racho (except when he was taking so long and he was super hungry. Cranky Mendiolas, yes we are when we’re hungry).

Waiting in line was quite a comic relief. There were four other patients ahead of us all waiting to have chemo administered on them. I could tell who was the patient because all of them looked like Mio: mask? Check. PSP/ DS? Check. Bald hair? All of them except Mio. Oh the inevitable.

The Moms in the clinic shared that recovery was pretty fast and that after awhile, their kids got used to it. Losing hair was painful. And infection was the biggest enemy apparently coz one of them lost her kid even when the child was already in maintenance chemo just after playing with other kids. Good luck. Fear.

Mio was groggy for about two hours  but managed to say, “I want to eat in the restaurant, Mom.” LOL on top of that, soon as he recovered he said, “Mom, you look crazy awhile ago when I got dizzy. You looked like a lego.”

So to Kenny Roger’s we went. Looking at him satisfied and full erased all the images of his being drugged, starved and poked at. He was back at being my sweet child. We arrived home quite late but was too happy to find a gift from Nickelodeon! Thank you Ana!

I try to get some work done and asked him if I could stay outside the room to do so. And Mio, who used to be such an understand child said, “Sure Mom. But you might wake up late for work again if you sleep late.” That’s my boy.

In bed, I nudge him to pray and he started it off himself with, “Thank you Jesus for making me sleep so I didn’t feel the needle. Thank you for the people.” He was a believer now. So was I.

I didn’t even bother to ask God anymore why me, why my son and all that crap. Because all this time, all I asked was for Him to guide me to do what He has planned for me to do. And here I am, realizing that the best relationship I invested on are the friendships I had ever since. It serves now as the foundation to a calling that these events have made me realize. Taking care of Mio and fighting this cancer is beyond my obligation. It is a calling. I trust that it is beyond fault that this has happened to us. It is in fact, possibly our purpose. 

I asked Mio to trust God and that he has yet to learn how. It took me awhile, I don’t expect him to understand now. I asked Mio to be brave and I think we have that mapped out because he’s adjusting quite well and his hemoglobin count is going up.

Brevity is not without humility. To be as brave as a five year old facing cancer is humbling as it is. Its not about being confident or proud like how superheroes are personified. I have embraced our fear and considered that overcoming it requires acknowledging a greater power. The same fear I have of Mio’s pain, Mio’s future and my own selfish faithlessness allowed me to open up to others. And here you are, given the opportunity to help us.

I used to be ashamed to ask for help as if I have been defeated. I even used to tell Mio that he has to learn how to help himself. These days, I remember that help is not a loan. It is a gift. And help comes in little forms like a text; an email; a stranger’s message; a donation; a hug; an assurance; and a little boy fighting cancer.



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