It all started with a splitting headache. I can’t explain how painful it is but it’s like my head is being sliced by a knife. Every time I hit the sack, there is this fear that I will be awakened in the middle of the night with excruciating headache. I consulted my eye doctor to check if there is anything wrong with my vision, but apparently my doctor prescribed me with eye glasses for astigmatism. Then again, the headache didn’t disappear.
Inhaling scented oils like “White Flower” for headache became my natural routine on my way to work. I used to curl up at the passenger’s seat of dad’s car every time he would drive me to my workplace. Then my dad would always ask, “Mackie, napapadalas na yang sakit ng ulo mo ah!” (Mackie, it seems that lately you’re having frequent headaches). Then I would just say, “Tuwing umaga lang ito dad pero mawawala din maya maya” (I only experience this during in the morning but this will be gone later).
At the office, before I start my work, I would go to a dark place and just curl up in unbearable pain while inhaling “White Flower” then after 15 mins. I’ll be ok. My officemates were starting to get curious of what is happening to me because that routine became frequent and they are starting to get worried. I would tell them, “This is nothing, I will just take pain tablets and it will be gone.” I endured the agony for 2 weeks!
Then one day, I was at work, I did my usual routine of inhaling scented oils, and took all kinds of pain killers….. I’m starting to get worried because the pain is getting more intense. Then I can’t take it anymore and started vomiting. My supervisor advised me to go home to have myself checked.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
I went to a clinic in our neighborhood to see a neurologist, and they referred me to Dr. Celeste Peña. Dr. Peña prescribed me with high dosages of pain killers and a CT scan procedure if the pain killers will not work.
Well…. the pain elevates even more so I went to the hospital for a CT scan the next day. I presented the results to my doctor. As she examined my CT scan plates, her eyebrows wrinkled a bit which made me nervous that lead me to ask her, “Is everything ok doc?” then she said, “We have a problem here, there is a big mass that is located in the middle part of your brain and it seems like a size of a golf ball.” I was shocked. A tear fell effortlessly down from my cheeks as I heard her say it. First thing that came to my mind… “Am I going to die God?” I sat down …. Speechless …. At that time, I was with my boyfriend (now my ex), let us name him Rome. So, Rome was the one who talked to my doctor. She said to him, “She must be confined in the hospital as soon as possible, I will talk to my colleague who is a neurosurgeon and he will take care of Mackie’s case.”
We rushed home to get some clothes and self-care needs. As we arrived home, I told mom about my case, my mom was shocked and called my dad to tell the sad news. Then she hurriedly went to my room to get all my clothes and toiletries. Rome was the one who drove us to the hospital.
When I went to the emergency room, my mind was floating, I was given a dextrose and was placed in a private room to wait for the instruction of my doctor. As we waited, my dad arrived at the room. It was the very first time I saw him knocked down in tears when he saw me in pain. I am not used to see him like that because I’ve known him as a very strong person. Then he asked Rome “What did the doctor say and why did this all happen?!” With all due respect to Rome, I admire him for being so skilled in remembering details, he is like a recorder, he was able to relay all information about my case to my father.
MEETING THE DOCTOR
I was introduced to Dr. Isagani Cirilo, a neurosurgeon at PMC (Parañaque Medical Center). The first time I saw him, his face was so serious. Honestly, I didn’t like him at first. He said that my case is very rare and If I can recall it right, I heard that there is a possibility that the procedure / surgery will be done abroad. My dad was devastated. He cried and I overheard him say, “GOD, Why Mackie???? She is so full of life!”. I also saw my mom in tears and was there beside dad. Dad got worried where he will get the funds for my surgery as the surgery alone will cost half a million pesos. Medicines and other miscellaneous fees are not yet included. I overheard him say, “I think I have to sell all my properties for my daughter to survive.”
As a patient, I felt hopeless. I said to myself, “God I lift up my life to you….. my life is in your hands,” then I cried afterwards.
THERE WAS HOPE
Morning came, my doctor did some rounds and dropped by to see me and also to inform the procedures of what they will do to my case. Dr. Cirilo gave a list of tests that they will perform prior to the surgery. He said that I have to undergo a general examination. They have to make sure that all my organs are in good condition as they perform the procedure. First, I will undergo Cranial CT Scan and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). For the MRI, I need to be transported to a hospital nearby via ambulance because they have a machine for it. I was brought there and they performed an MRI scan to see a clearer version of the mass.
When I saw the hospital (Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Muntinlupa City), I was amazed by the ambiance of it. It’s like I’m in a hotel 😊. Someone advised us to transfer my custody in this hospital since they have all the modern equipments.
When the MRI results came, Dr. Cirilo still can’t find out what to do with my case. Then he decided to perform the last procedure, it is the most challenging test for me and that is Angiogram.
After all procedures and several tests, Dr. Cirilo has the result of my Angiogram and informed my parents the good news. He told them that he is confident to do the surgery here in the Philippines. My dad was relieved!
Someone advised us to seek for a second opinion. My dad, Rome together with his father went to 3 different neurosurgeons and they all advised the same, to perform a surgery.
In performing a surgery, a patient must be prepared Physically, Mentally and Spiritually. As I clearly recall, I was only 22 years old. Yes, I was in pain but I never doubted that I can recover. Whenever friends, co workers or a relative would visit me, they would tell me, “Parang wala naman atang tumor jan sa ulo mo! Tawa ka kasi ng tawa na parang walang nangyayari sayo!” (It seems that you don’t have a tumor on your head! You are laughing so hard as if there’s nothing serious with you.) Well, I guess that’s me, I am a free spirited woman 😊.
I am overwhelmed with the love and support of my friends from my youth ministry at Presentation of the Child Jesus Parish (PCJ Parish). I’ve seen different kinds of expressions from all of them the moment they found out about my condition. There were a lot of people who donated money for my surgery. God truly provides!
Some referred me to prayer warrior groups wherein they gather together to pray over for me every day. The feeling of being loved by your close friends most especially from my family is a big contribution in building up my Mental state. Also, having a deep relationship with God has strengthen my faith.
My family gathered together the night before the day of my surgery. I was in awe as I saw my Dad for the very first time to lead the prayer. I remember he made a deal with God, “O God, take me instead of my daughter…. please, spare her life.” I cried as I saw him knelt down in tears…. he was helpless. I can feel that the Holy Spirit was around us during that moment.
THE DAY FINALLY CAME
It was 6:00am of September 25, 2003. I prayed while waiting for the nurses to pick me up by 7:00am. What amazes me is that fear never crossed my mind. In fact, I am excited because I am confident that Jesus will be there for me as they perform the surgery.
Exactly 7:00am, the nurses arrived and brought me to the preparation room and waited for a couple of minutes. As I clearly remember, I was so calm and told my family, “Don’t worry after the surgery I will be ok.”
Time came that they need to bring me inside the operating room. I waved goodbye to my family and said, “See you later!” as the nurses pushed me out of the preparatory room. Inside the operating room, the machines were all brand new. I was injected for general anesthesia and was told to count 1 to 10. As I close my eyes, I saw a different world…..
TRAVEL WITH JESUS
I was in deep sleep as they perform the surgery. I had this dream of Jesus holding my hand. We were walking in a wide dessert. It came to a point I said to him, “I am getting tired, my feet are aching.” Jesus gave me a big hug and carried me. Scenes in my dream were like pictures.
AS I OPEN MY EYES
The surgery lasted for 12 hours. The moment I open my eyes, I remember I was singing Christian songs. This really proves that the power of prayer moves in mysterious ways. Mom told me that there were a lot of people praying for me during the procedure. Nurses inside of the ICU became my friends as they love my positive energy as a patient recovering from a Major Surgery. I underwent through so much pain but it didn’t stop me from believing that I will become well.
Dr. Cirilo declared that my tumor is benign. We were all relieved! I just need to undergo a 30-day radiation treatment to completely remove the mass from my head.
I underwent through so much after my surgery. There is this battle inside of me. I became depressed for a period of time because I don’t have an idea if everything will be back to normal. There were a lot of precautions and prescription of medicines given to me. I have to resign from my present work to give way for my recovery. The rest was history…
This moment was a big turning point in my life. I look at life now on a different perspective. At a very young age, I started serving God as a way of giving back all the glory. I am grateful that I was able to experience pressures and pains of being an adult. I am thankful that He has extended my time to experience how beautiful life is.
I was able to conquer mountains that I thought I can never overcome due to my condition. As I turn 40 y/o and 18 y/o for my second life, it is great to recall all these memories that has strengthen my faith as a Christian.
This experience is the main reason why I created this blog site. It took me years before I got the courage to write everything.
As I continue my journey, I am not afraid to face whatever challenges that life may give me. Jesus will always be on my side no matter how hard life can be. I still have a mission here on earth and I will not waste it on regrets nor hatred. I want to use my voice to speak and be an inspiration to those who are sick or has lost hope to live. I always tell them, “If I was able to fight just to live, you can too. God’s love can heal us. We just have to surrender our life to Him.”