On CANCER

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I am no stranger to cancer. For while I have not been diagnosed of the Big C and, God forbid, I hope I never will be, I have had two members of my family succumb to it. And the pain of watching people you care so deeply for, slowly but savagely waste away, still haunt me to this very day.

When my Mom succumbed to breast cancer in 2003, I was not by her side. Not even within the premises of the hospital where she was taken three days before she drew her last breath, of which I was also not informed. I only learned about it when one of my siblings called me from the hospital. What followed after that was a very painful process of (a.) First, having to deal with the loss of my Mother who was the heart and soul of the family I have come to know as my own, minus the biological ties; and (b.) Having to deal with the painful drama that ensued between family members, made only worse by one ego trying to outdo another’s and, well, you must have seen enough teleseryes to know very ugly family squabbles can get sometimes.

Two years passed and it was my Dad’s turn to surrender his mortal body. Colon cancer took him away from us but if you ask me, a part of him died when Mom went and he died little by little every single day since. And once again, my tough and ultra-independent stance crumbled and I was left feeling raw and emotionally vulnerable.

Looking back at what could possibly be two of the darkest moments of my life, I realize how important having a good support system – composed mainly of family and friends – is. I had an abundance of the latter, but was clearly left out in the cold by the former. But I told myself, one out of two is still good and with my friends’ support, I was able to slowly get back on track and inch my way closer to complete catharsis.

During the healing process, I did not carry around a manual to refer back to for every achingly familiar situation I was about to face. But I do remember doing a lot of things which eventually led me to completely accept my loss and do what every person in the same situation must do – move on.

***

A few months ago, a dear friend of ours was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer. Abie, as we fondly call her, is all but 30 years of age; a single Mom; a doting daughter to her parents; and the family’s sole breadwinner. When she told us about the doctors’ prognosis, Noel and I, in our separate conversations with her, could only stare at the floor in shock and disbelief. The knowing alone is too painful – and we’re not even the ones whose bodies were being ravaged by the cancer cells. But you see, this is where Abie held us all in amazement: though clearly in pain and overwhelmed by the impact her chemotherapy and other medical expenses would have on their finances, she kept her composure and not once did we ever hear her speak ill of God or curse the heavens above for her affliction. To this day, she continues to bear it all with grace and shining positivity that she puts us in shame for all our pettiness.

Upon her doctors’ advice, she underwent mastectomy and soon after, started her chemotherapy treatment – a painful process she will have to sustain all the way until end of the year. During which, we are all hopeful that the cancer cells will be put to rest once and for all. Now these things cost money. A LOT of it. And between taking care of the family and fighting for her own life, Abie can only do so much. So Noel, who has known Abie for almost seven years now, thought of a brilliant idea to raise funds so we can all – in our little ways – help Abie.

And that’s how SOLACE was born.

Abie Pana

SOLACE: An Open Photo Shoot Project For Abie Pana

Date: 30 April 2011 (Saturday)

Time: 9AM to 6PM

Where: 123 Pioneer Street, Mandaluyong City

Rate: Php800 inclusive of hair and make-up

Photographer: Noel Abelardo

To reserve a slot, please send an email to ndabelardo@gmail.com

***

 

Photographer and Friend extraordinaire

 

About the photographer

Noel Abelardo is not your typical boy-next-door. He’s blessed with looks and that enviable style, sure, but he’s got the talent and, most of all, the heart to back it up. In nearly six years that I have known him, he always pulls out a trump card – at that every moment when you thought he couldn’t possibly do better than the first almost-perfect attempt. It could be his interesting life and its oft-confounding details that gave him the inspiration to capture faces and moments in crystal clear lenses – an inspiration he is able to sustain to this very day – and selflessly offer these montage of captured emotions back to the world. And if you ask him ‘until when’, he will most likely quip ‘forever’ . And you just know, that by ‘forever’ he means exactly that – and not a day less. Interestingly, his approach to photography is not too far removed from the daring and risqué manner with which he courts love and commitment. Which, in retrospect, is perhaps one of the bigger reasons why we remain as close as we had been the first months of our meeting back in 2006. Noel’s talent in photography, arts, music, and his other creative pursuits is only rivaled by his unflinching loyalty to and love for family and friends.  I often tell him, he is bound for bigger places – doing far greater things with his talent. And looking at his growing portfolio of achievements, I daresay, he is no more than a marathon away. Thank you Noel, Abie and I could not have asked for a better friend.

10 thoughts on “On CANCER”

  1. I wish I had paid more attention to this photoshoot schedule. Alas, I was running the mountains of CAMSUR at the time. I can feel your pain that resonates beyond the printed word, beyond cyberspace and touching lives of those who also have gone through grief. Loss of loved ones is never an easy thing. And yet, out of these ashes, beauty can still rise. Hope no matter how frail it is as the song goes, is not easily extinguish because it is a flame that knows no end. And it is a fire that ignites even the coldest of hearts in all of us. It is that irony of pain, loss, love and redemption that everyone eventually has to go through.And I thank God that you have come forth from the experience with a better appreciation of life. A better understanding of love. And best of all, a more gracious person of character.

    1. Hi B! That is such a beautiful thing to say about love and loss and getting back up on the saddle again. It’s true. Over time, God gives you respite from the onslaught of residual pain and all you really have to do is have faith in Him. In retrospect, I don’t know exactly how I got through the series of pain – no, not unscathed for sure – but I know I wasn’t alone during those times. And you know what, I, too, am convinced that if it weren’t for all of that, I would have been in a far different state than I am now. I’m still a work in progress who can sometimes be careless about the things I say and do – which often lead to people getting hurt or taken for granted. But like I keep telling people who ask me about my being adopted and such, when you grew up practically raising yourself and not really having great examples to emulate and aspire for, you come out tough as nails. Ruthless, perhaps. But never irrelevant.:)

  2. Hi B! That is such a beautiful thing to say about love and loss and getting back up on the saddle again. It’s true. Over time, God gives you respite from the onslaught of residual pain and all you really have to do is have faith in Him. In retrospect, I don’t know exactly how I got through the series of pain – no, not unscathed for sure – but I know I wasn’t alone during those times. And you know what, I, too, am convinced that if it weren’t for all of that, I would have been in a far different state than I am now. I’m still a work in progress who can sometimes be careless about the things I say and do – which often lead to people getting hurt or taken for granted. But like I keep telling people who ask me about my being adopted and such, when you grew up practically raising yourself and not really having great examples to emulate and aspire for, you come out tough as nails. Ruthless, perhaps. But never irrelevant.:)
    +1

  3. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is magnificent, let alone the content!. Thanks For Your article about On CANCER Living Life Supersized .

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