Moving with Courage
Liza dela Cruz still remembers the moment she was diagnosed with cancer. She was 38 years old then with two children. Because her husband was at work, she had to get the results by herself. When Liza heard the word malignant, it was as if her world had come to an end. She couldn't think. She couldn't move. She couldn't see or hear anything around her. She had but one burning thought: She could not give up because her children were still so very young. Liza says, “I thought that when I was diagnosed with cancer, it was like I was given a death sentence and that my days were numbered.” Only a few months before, Liza noticed a lump on her right breast. Although she experienced no other other symptoms and felt totally fine, she decided to have it checked. Liza went through all sorts of tests, including a breast ultrasound and a mammogram. She recalls, “The results were favorable. The ultrasound said it was normal; maybe it had something to do with my monthly period.”
But the lump kept nagging at her. She wasn't convinced, so she went to another doctor for a second opinion. The doctor recommended the excision of the lump, so that they could find out what it really was. Liza agreed immediately.
She got the results a week later. It was cancer.
“I went home like I was floating on air. I couldn't feel anything. I called my husband first and foremost to let him know. I was hesistant at first, but thought that I needed to tell him. When I called him up, he was in a meeting. When I told him, he rushed home and comforted me. I cried big time when I saw my husband. I was like a child. But he stood by me with firm conviction. He said, 'You will get well. We will do everything we can to make you well.”
Liza's father had just passed away a few months before, and she was still grieving. “I was still mourning his loss, but then a new challenge came into my life.”
She didn't have the heart to tell her mother about her situation. Liza didn't want to give her mother more pain as she was still grieving for their father.
Apart from cancer, Liza had another condition, psoriasis. A chronic autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin, psoriasis is non-contagious but nevertheless, challenging.
Liza says, “Having both psoriasis and cancer is not easy, but I need to win this battle.” She took comfort in the fact that she had her family's 100 percent support. She also got assistance from her psoriasis group. It was through their group that Liza was referred to her doctor.
She says, “Aside from being my doctor, he was also my counselor. He is kind and compassionate. He has a very positive outlook and encouraged me to fight.”
But the fight entailed resources. Liza had a health card, but she had used up all her benefits with her operation. She needed to undergo adjuvant therapy but financially, she was constrained. She didn't have any savings to speak of as most of their money went to the education of their two children. But Liza says, “God never gives you something that He will not provide you a way out of.”
Liza was talking to her doctor about her problem, and it just so happened that a medical representative was there who knew about the Pink for Life Foundation. The organization provides subsidized chemotherapy treatments for women with stage 1 and 2 breast cancer. All that Liza needed to do was present her clinical abstract and histopath.
“I know it's a cliché, but God always answers our prayers. I personally experienced it. I know that God works in so many mysterious ways, just trust Him. Let His will be done,” says Liza.
Going through chemotherapy was not easy. Liza would have vomiting bouts for days on end. During those times, she made sure that her children didn't see her. But one time, she saw her youngest, who was six years old at the time, peeping through the door, crying.
Liza says, “I called him and hugged him tight. I told him that I will never leave and that's a promise. I am fortunate to be blessed with a good husband. He was my rock at the time. My mom was there too. I knew that she knew what was happening to me, but she kept her silence. She just kept on praying for me, and it worked.”
When Liza finally recovered her strength, it was time for another cycle of treatment. But Liza says, “I looked forward to my next session because it means things were moving forward. I finished my last session December 24 of the same year.”
“I know God is with me. I may have cancer but cancer never had me. When I accepted my situation and decided to win the battle, I won! I was healed by the Lord. I did not promise or bargain my life with God. I just told Him that I will be very thankful if He extends my life and as a way of thanksgiving I serve Him until now.”
Liza is also grateful for the loving support of family, friends, and every individual who gave her assistance and understanding. She adds, “I am praying for all my sisters who are undergoing treatment and those who are on their way to recovery. Keep the faith. Never, never lose hope. Be happy because you are loved by the Lord... I am now on my eight year post-treatment. My six year old is already 14 and my eldest is 18. Oh, so many things to accomplish, so many things to do! I just wait for the Lord to tell me what's the next move.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Regular Breast Self-Examination (BSE) is one way of significantly increasing the early detection of breast cancer. Learn how to do a BSE by clicking the link to this video tutorial.