Battle against c


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Our family’s battle against cancer..


The first of many times in 2018 when Mama was rushed to the hospital. It was because of severe back pain.

After that a series of check-ups, tests, MRIs followed for weeks until finally the dreaded visit to an Oncologist.

Mama was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – cancer of the bone marrow. For Mama it was concentrated at her spine which caused multiple fractures on her vertebrae (T6 and T12). It caused her so much pain that she could not stand up, sit down, walk or move without extreme pain. She was immobile most of the time just to subdue the pain. She used to sleep on a reclining chair because lying down and getting up intensified the pain.

We were told that it is curable through chemo therapy and it is not aggressive. However, if left uncured my mother’s spine will break down fast which will leave her paralyzed.

So we all accepted the fact that she will go through chemo at least 1 to 2x a week and also the fact that our day to day will change and adapt around the situation we were in. We ended up getting a wheel chair for her, a hospital bed, walker, we all swapped bedrooms so she wouldn’t have to sleep upstairs. During the initial months her bed was in our living room. We did a lot of changes at home to make her as comfortable as we could all through out this battle.


Mama’s first chemo therapy session. We didn’t know any better and it cost us PhP 135K+ just for 2 vials of Velcade + professional fee + facility fee. She stayed on Velcade during the first 10 sessions and we eventually switched to the generic Bortezomib because it is a bit cheaper.

We asked our Oncologist for pharma contacts where we could directly buy the medicines at a cheaper price. We also sought the financial assistance of PCSO. It was convenient because they had an office at the hospital. However, (with elections coming) the PCSO office was eventually removed late last year so they were only able to help us a couple of times but like any kind of assistance we are thankful for those.

Mama’s spine pain was too much that a regular pain killer couldn’t ease the pain. She had to take morphine 3-4x a day. It helped ease the pain a bit but along with it comes hallucinations – it wasn’t pleasant. I remember driving to/from the hospital for her chemo sessions at only 10-20 kph because a little bump on the road would extremely pain her.


Mama’s body reacted badly to the chemo medicine that she almost did not make it. She couldn’t eat, she threw up every time she tried to eat. Her digestive system was not functioning at all that food were not going down and out. Her tummy bloated. Her skin color was greyish. She lost weight. Her head was lolling as her neck couldn’t support it. It was the lowest condition she’d been.

She was rushed to the hospital and was confined for almost a week then after a few days returned back and was confined again for another week. It was the most scary of times for the whole family, I can’t imagine Mama’s internal struggle. I even believe she went through depression. Seeing her suffer was too much. We could only pray. Before all hope was gone we requested for the hospital priest to administer to Mama the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. It happened on Aug.19.2018. Then a couple of days after, she was released from the hospital and we noticed significant improvement in her health. I would like to believe it as a miracle.


Her chemo sessions stopped while she was recovering in the hospital, it resumed in September. At that time we also decided to shift to a different doctor, someone who specializes in multiple myeloma – a Hematologist-Oncologist. We learned that multiple myeloma affects blood streams – our bone marrow is where the blood streams through. Any abnormality on our blood chemistry (like creatinine, calcium, potassium etc.) affects the functioning of our body and its internal organs. Thus the need to closely monitor Mama’s blood chemistry all throughout her chemo which her initial Oncologist failed to do. She was also given more oral medicines to help keep the balance in her blood chemistry.

Mama’s recovery was slow given her age and the criticality of her illness. This battle affected each and every one of us in the family. Financial strain aside – it is not only a test of our faith, it was a test of our patience and love, of body and mind. Personally, I suffered mentally too even to the point of secluding myself and staying away from my friends. There were a few persistent ones who checked up on me from time to time and to them I am grateful. The attention and support from our relatives – particularly my parents’ siblings and cousins – are a big help to Mama, they made her feel she is not alone in this battle. Friends and relatives extended financial help the best they could. Our family is truly grateful. Praying wasn’t our last resort – we start and end our day with it like we always do – it intensified as it gave us hope and helped us hold ourselves together.


Mama’s last chemo session. Looking back 9-12 months ago, I can’t believe that we are here now. Mama can move around now slowly at short distances, her spine pain & fractures have long been gone, her appetite improved. Traces of multiple myeloma do not go away even after the chemo but its level can be kept marginally low through maintenance medicines for a couple more years. That’s the next phase of Mama’s long road to complete recovery.

We are happy that her chemo therapy has finally ended. That she made it through, and our family is stronger than ever. This experience made me realize again of God’s Great Providence. May it be financial or emotional – help comes around when we needed it the most.

To whoever is battling cancer – keep going and don’t lose hope. To those going through this the first time, research helps a lot and looking for pharma contacts for cheaper meds will somehow help alleviate the financial burden, don’t hesitate to ask or accept help from friends and loved ones too. A miracle is sometimes only a prayer away.




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For some reason I started drifting off from the friendship island. It happened gradually, unconsciously.

Let me take a step back.. We all have bestfriends in stages of our lives, for the lucky ones they have at least one for life since birth. For me, they all came when I needed them and so the drifting apart came naturally.

I had a bestfriend in grade school – we lost touch when we entered high school. She had her own set of friends and I had mine. But even after that I was present at her wedding and even been a god mother to her eldest and yet that was it.

I never had a best friend during high school. Maybe because every year I end up with different sets of classmates so I never had the chance to build a closer friendship with anyone. I met a group of close friends but then once we graduated it somehow ended our friendship too. I don’t remember us trying to reach out to stay in touch. I guess life just happened for each of us. I’m thankful I met them and helped me through the awkward years of puberty.

College days were more fun for me in a sense I fell in love and had my heart broken, I met friends whom I cherished even after college and one of them was my second bestfriend. I was the maid of honor on her wedding, I became the god mother to her eldest. We kept in touch even after college but adulting hit each of us so hard that we rarely saw each other. At least once or twice a year on birthdays and the holidays we meet and talk for hours like it was just yesterday. Like bestfriends we talk about anything and everything. It’s more than a year since she and her family migrated to another country – I don’t know when I will see her again.

I met another bestfriend at my first job – and like the other one she got married, had a family, and migrated. We usually write letters during the first few months after she left. Then the letters died down to birthday and holiday greetings.

Then I fell in and out of love again but out of it I met my next bestfriend. It was different in a way that he is the youngest brother of my uncle’s wife. So we spent a lot of time during family gatherings. We spent times outside of the family circle. We both recently mourned the death of a common friend. Now, I don’t remember the last time we saw each other. It seems like we’ve been putting off our next meet up.

I met a lot of friends mostly from work and we bonded tight, we were really close. Most of them started living and working abroad. That’s how our friendship drifted off. They are as bad as me when it comes to keeping in touch. I used to come to reunions when they are in town until last year – I stopped going. Those friends I still have starting having families of their own, having relationships – I have none.

Maybe I am lacking but I know what kind of friend I am.. I’m the go-to kind of friend – they come to me for advise, for help, and support – and I give them my all when they need me bad. I’m the kind who makes DIY presents because it’s more special. I’m the kind who writes poetry as a gift to my friends. On the other side, I’m the kind who rarely ask for help, I don’t bother anyone, I’m self-sufficient in most ways.

So what happened? I don’t know, the interactions became lesser to none even on social media. It just stopped or I just stopped.

My INFJ and HSP part is still trying to figure out this phase.

I wrote this piece because I just miss having a bestfriend..




I just want to write something about Miming..

She came from generations of cats bred from 1 cat – a gift from my bestfriend, 20 years ago – Miming was the last – unfortunately she wasn’t able to breed. She had been with us for 13years – she was a granny at 94 – she was family.

She had messy all-white fur. Attentive blue eyes. She liked staying outside. When we moved to our new place January last year, she was gone missing for 2weeks but managed to get back home. She was Chico’s bestfriend (Chico was our family dog for 10years) – she was lonely when Chico left us.

She was mostly quiet – loved to sleep, liked making friends with stray cats. We’d hear her meow mostly when she’s hungry. She was a low maintenance cat – but a fighter.

It was before Christmas when she started showing signs of losing appetite. She refused to eat. Last week we decided to bring her to the vet. She was very weak. We let her stay there for 3 days until we decided to bring her home this morning. It was only a couple of hours after when she finally left us. I guess she was just waiting to be home – I bid farewell to her in my heart. I couldn’t bear to look at her one last time – I was not brave enough to tell her thank you and goodbye..

Rest in peace Miming – I know you are up there now with Chico and the rest of your family. I will miss you a lot..



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A lot have been written and featured about mothers and their great love for their children. I would like to share my own thoughts too even if I maybe repeating what have been told a thousand times, I wish these words would resonate to all the corners of the universe…

My mother, Mama, is like any nurturing and loving mother. She sacrificed a lot of her time and emotions just to make life better for us, as best as she could. She tended to us. She cooked our meal. She taught us many things. She does all these – whatever it is that a mother has to do for her children.

For me, Mama is more than that.

I love the sound of her voice when she sings, she is a really really good singer. As a little kid, I remember tagging along with the family so we could watch her sing for an audition – I cannot remember for what show or TV station it was. One of her dreams was to be a singer, she may have been a great one out there but she had only sung lullabies for my nieces, or when we do videoke at home. She likes to sing old ballad songs both local and foreign, and there is this song she could not finish singing because she would cry in the middle! Like 100% of the time! The song is “For You” by John Denver.. lovely song.

“She cooks” sounds plain because she doesn’t only cook, she does magic! Even the simplest dish is savory. I cook when she is not at home or when I am away from home, but whenever she is home even if I volunteer to cook she would insist of doing it. Too bad I could not gain more weight to prove how much I love the food she cooks. Her specialty which is the family’s and relative’s favorite is latik – it is a local delicacy which hailed from Samar, her hometown. She prepares it during the holidays – makes me eagerly look forward to the Christmas holidays!

She is strong and tender-hearted at the same time. During the time when we were financially challenged, Tatay was an OFW with no stable compensation, it is during my childhood to pre-teen years, when I thought it was over and no more hope, Mama would find a way so that we could pay our school tuitions, so we would have food on the table even if it was just steamed rice mixed with milk or sugar, so that our landlord would not kick us out. She must have felt all alone in that battle and I knew, in silence she would cry and pray hard so that we will all be okay. Now, how I wish she would not find any reason to shed a tear…

She is a dependable counselor. No matter how big or small, my sisters and I can share our burdens with her though I try not to trouble her I still let out my problems when I could not handle them anymore. Whether she just hears us out or she gives a piece of her mind, it is always a relief to have a mother to talk to during those times. She also gives sound advice to my cousins when they come to her with their own problems. She also gets affected when one of her brothers is going through tough times, she makes sure she is there for them even if it just giving words of comfort.

Even now that my sisters and I are all grown up and my sisters have kids of their own, my Mama still worries about us and continues to love and nurture us. I think that is something that no one could take away from her, ever.

With that, on her special day, today – I wish she knows how much we love her that we only want her to live a happy and comfortable life. To let her know that I get her, I may not be a mother myself but I understand her and everything she did for me and my sisters, I appreciate them all. To let us worry and take care of her needs so she could grow old gracefully.  I pray that God will grant her good health and a long joyous life.

Thank you Mama for everything! I love you dearly! We love you so much! Happy birthday to you! ❤️



It Started With A Dream

Let me tell you a story about a girl and her dream.

She was born out of poverty with her two younger siblings. Her parents only had each other when they married, no money, no property. Their love for each other and their three kids and their faithful God are the only driving forces that held everything together in the family. As a young child, she had no idea what being rich or being poor means, she just quietly knew that they have to live within their means. She never complained about not having enough – whatever material things they lack, the abundance of love in the family makes up for all of it. One of her vivid memories was moving from one place to another. She lost count on how many times they moved, how many cities they lived in, how many schools she transferred to. Despite that, she enjoyed the pursuit of searching for houses and the packing and unpacking of stuffs. Along with this extraordinary experience are memories of scary landlords pushing them to leave even in the middle of the night because rent was overdue. From all of those, in the deepest recesses of her heart, she dreamt of having a house that her family can call their own and a comfortable life for her family. Inspite of it, she always felt that they are not alone in their struggle. Divine help always, always, always came when they need it most. God has always been their Great Provider.

Just like with any poor family trying to survive in this world – there were bills to pay, tuition fees, debts, setbacks. Right after the girl graduated from college, she set out looking for a job so she could support her family. God has been good and not long after, she found a really good company and a monthly Php 6,000.00 gross pay that time was more than she could be thankful for. Out of her first bonus she bought a washing machine because she could no longer bear to see how doing laundry breaks her mother’s back. Little by little she learned to save and acquire things that they need. She helped in sending her youngest sister to college, extended help to relatives and friends too. She generously gives because she knows how it is to have nothing. Those who do not know her would think that she has things in abundance and that life is easy on her now but she does not think so, just like before she and her family are just living within their means.

All those years, despite all the difficulties and challenges, that dream inside her never got discouraged, it grew steadily. It may have taken decades, some would think it has taken almost forever, but all the good and all the blessings in disguise conspired for her dream to come to be. Her dream was just waiting for God’s perfect time to be realized.

I decided to share this girl’s story, which is my story, to inspire you, dear reader. Those who are struggling to make both ends meet, who are working hard towards the realization of their dreams – I sincerely hope my story will inspire you to not give up.

No dream is too small or too big as long as you believe in it.. With perseverance, faith, and support from family and friends — through God’s will, my dream has become a reality. The cliché “do your best and God will do the rest” resounds with truth. For God helps those who help themselves and who never doubt God’s goodness and generosity. “..God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9‬:‭8‬)

I cannot describe how much my heart overflows with joy right now! I would like to express my sincerest gratitude..

Praises and glory be to our one and only God – the God of possibilities, our generous Provider and great Protector. To our merciful Mama Mary, our loving intercessor. A huge thank you dear Lord God and Mama Mary – for never letting me and my family down, for always being there with us – in times of trouble and in times of convenience – maraming maraming salamat po. Because I believe in the power of prayer – I also sought for the intercession of Archangel Jhudiel and St. Jude – thank you my holy patrons.

I also would like to thank the people who helped me and my family through this journey. My auntie Lorna Carbonel who patiently toured us to different locations and open-houses until I finally decided to buy – believe me, it took me years! My uncle, Engineer Dindo Conge for the kindness and support. My uncle, Architect Carlo (Marc) Navarro, who tremendously helped us from the designs to buying the materials and supervising the actual work. To our family friend’s (Norina) contractors who finished constructing our house. To my Conge cousins, and to tito Erick and tita Allen Navarro for always being ready to lend their time and effort by helping us during the move. To my supportive friends. To my family who has been with me through ups and downs and never gave up on our dreams – especially my parents. I thank God for bringing all of you into my life. God is truly good, always!



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My best friend for more than twenty years is migrating to another country with her family. Eventhough we do not always talk because of how busy our lives have become, eventhough we seldom see each other because of the growing number of priorities in our life, the thought of her being so far away makes me terribly sad. Most of my closest friends are now living abroad. Most of them I do not get to talk to anymore, like a falling out. It is sad.

I am not really good with goodbyes. Right before anyone leaves me, I have a tendency of shrinking back inside my comfortable shell trying to avoid any further contact and will not reach out to get in touch. Until it is almost too late and the person is gone.  Is it just me? Maybe because I am not comfortable at verbally expressing my emotions and admitting defeat over such emotion. Maybe I just hate goodbyes. It is difficult.


Proverbs 17:17

My friends matter to me that I know I have to get over myself. I know I will not just let her go like that. Somehow I will find a way to let her know that I will miss her so bad and that I still would love us to be friends even though we are far apart. Hopefully there will not be any falling out, but if ever that would happen, I will always be thankful for and cherish the great friendship we had.

I would love to hear how you deal with sepanx or separation anxiety with your friends..

Two Decades


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It was “eons” ago today when I started my career as a programmer trainee, and looking back then I did not know what or where I will be now. I just knew then that I had to work hard and earn a living so I can support my family, pay the rent, put food on our table. Each day I would come to work early, no complaints to whatever task comes my way, code and debug for hours until I find the null pointer assignment culprit. Even came to a point where I dreamt of a coding solution to such bug which (guess what?) actually worked!

From programmer trainee, it was not long when I got into a senior then to a supervisory level. I knew I was still lacking and there were still a lot for me to learn but still I took the challenge, thankful that I had a great team and a boss who believed in me. Then shortly after that the great transition happened, I was moved to a start-up account. It was huge! It gave me a lot of opportunities including the chance to travel to which I initially refused to do, afraid to be separated from my family for 3 and 6 months in a row. Now, I am just laughing inside thinking how silly I was then.

I am glad I took that assignment – I learned new technologies, developed codes, built processes, trained fresh graduates – I did not know that I was helping build that start-up account which is still thriving successfully to this day – I just knew that I was only doing my job diligently. The travel part let me explore great places and opened my eyes to how diverse people are. I stayed for many years in my first company and I thought that was where I will retire, because everything was going well. The environment and people were perfect but I have other priorities so I left and moved on.

The other companies I have been to would be where I grow my soft skills, slowly I fell apart from the technical roles – I did not deliberately choose to but opportunities just presented themselves for me to take on new roles, new challenges and I did not seem to know how to say “No” because I did not want to say “No”. I just knew that in every opportunity there is uncomfortable change and a chance to make things better, I know that in every opportunity there is always something new to learn. That was what I kept on doing. I trained. I learned through experience and other people’s experience. I make sure that I enjoy what I am doing. Thus from development, to QA, to production support and maintenance, to process management – I moved around. I met difficult people, to the point when I wanted to give up – yes there were some dramas – but I am grateful because they made me realize what kind of a person and leader I want to be. All of these kind of reminded me of this principle.. 

Bloom where you are planted.

It is also quite rewarding when people I worked with would, out of nowhere, tell me that they are thankful for my part in their career. This reminds me that whenever we interact with someone in our work place, that our actions, our words, and intentions all together leave an impact to that someone – and we have to make sure that it is a positive impact we are leaving behind.

Lastly, working hard and smart are not enough though, there are tons of praying too – for things I have no control over, surrendering to a greater Power – and there is a bunch of help from the people I work with. I will always look back wistfully to where I started my career, and on this special day I want to pat myself on the back, say you have been doing well, Kristine, hang in there and keep it up!

Cheers to all!

Haters Gonna Hate

Quite recently I heard about people spreading false rumors and trying to ruin my reputation behind my back. I was surprised for a lot of different reasons.

I was surprised with how I handled the news. I did not run amok right after, I did not confront anyone. I just listened to every single detail like I was competely detached from myself. I reacted, I am human after all, but only to make comments about the absurdity of all of it. The fact that these people have been so long detached from my life, what they said did not fully affect me. 

I was surprised because whatever allegations made were related to events that was soooo almost-last year! I do not dwell in the past and I pity those poor souls for being trapped in there. They should start living their own lives instead of talking about me. Move on.

Human nature kicked in when I started wondering what I did wrong, what kind of person am I that there are people who dislike me. Then again, I was reminded that what they did is not a reflection of me but of themselves. I know myself better than anyone else. Whoever will believe them surely do not know me at all. They do not know the truth. This is maybe why I am not too bothered about it.

Knowing myself, I will not just stay quiet. No, I will not wage war. I will just subtly let them know that I know and I do not care a single bit.

Life is too valuable to spend on hate, to think about people who do not deserve a bit of our time. 

Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom


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Tuesdays with Morrie

Alright, let me get my thoughts settled for a minute. The thing is, this is my favorite book but it does not mean I will be able to write a perfect book review about it. I want to, yet the words in my mind are racing fast, forcing my fingers to type them all at once! There is so much in it that I would like to share that I might end up re-iterating the book itself. It is an exceptional book and most of the people I asked have read the book and they like it too.

I guess I can just share why I like it. Aside from being a non-fiction story, there are so many quotes and words in there that are relatable to me, lots of aha! and yes! moments, it touched my soul and made me cry too. Maybe a great deal of people who read it will agree that they were able to connect with Mitch’s story. We have, at some point in our lives, lost touch with friends and loved ones who are very close to us, who have inspired us – only few have the opportunity to keep them for life, and far fewer get the chance to reconnect after falling through the cracks. Mitch got that chance with his professor Morrie – their second encounter may have been a life changing encounter for Mitch, and I am so glad that he has decided to share it with us, dear readers. As they say, we learn from our mistakes, and it is equally important that we learn from other people’s life experiences too.

It is also inspiring that Morrie happened to live a life that does not follow the norm dictated by society and he was able to live an extraordinarily contented life. Countless of us get pressure in fitting in, worrying about other people’s opinions of ourselves. We are afraid to step out of the box and be different. All of these somehow restrict us in discovering our full potential. Only if we are all brave enough to do what we are supposed to do and be the person who we are supposed to be, there is so much we can do and offer to the world, and maybe we can be happier.

Lastly, the photo above is one of the best parts in the book that I like, the tension of opposites. Taking a step back and reflecting on it, he is right, love always wins. It is sort of a reminder when torn between two things, that we will end up doing and fighting for what our heart strongly desires.

If you have not read this book yet, then you are missing a lot.

Reflection: Quandary



Off the unbeaten path

Off the unbeaten path

Have you ever come to a point when you are tired of thinking, tired of feeling, tired of caring? Not in a general sense and not necessarily tired of living. Maybe, it is just specific to a certain person or situation in your life. Feeling it is hopeless.

Yet you continue to hang unto some words that were said, some promises left, maybe a gift given, a simple gesture, or even just one smile that came your way — any tiny freaking bit — hoping there is more in it, hoping things will change, become better. You are afraid that letting go of that tiny bit of hope will mean giving up or surrendering to the inevitable. How would you know when to keep holding on? How do you know when to let go?

You may have read a lot of self-help book and articles, even memorized some motivational quotes — they are good. Sometimes human nature just kicks in. You sought and heard advices from every single best friend but you don’t easily heed them, because you are stubborn by nature. You sometimes think that maybe one more, one last time, maybe things will go my way. If it doesn’t, you will think maybe this time, just one more. Then it becomes a cycle.

I have had my share of that. What is important is we learn and re-learn each time. Do not make it a habit – that is when it becomes perilous. I believe in second chances, or third chances or even more chances. I believe in doing what I need to do to save a situation or a relationship – not being passive, but participating and engaging. I believe in compromising or meeting half-way, that if both parties are willing then things may work out. I believe in talking things out – communicate, don’t assume and presume things are good or things are bad – take them as it is and talk about it. Still communicate. Lastly, pray – for whatever makes you sleep at night. Sounds simple, but not really. Emotional investment may take a toll specially for prolonged battle and can be a big factor in making and not making rational decisions.

When all things have been said and done yet situations remain the same then it is time to pause. I believe in self-respect. Defining your limit will let you know when you should stop hanging unto something that is not worth the fight. When to accept the inevitable. It may seem you are giving up, but not really. In a general sense it means just accepting what is – whether or not it is in your favor. Accepting that things are what they are supposed to be. Then you move on and hope for something better to come your way.