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To Marieliz

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo — far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult

I hate cancer.

My grandfather died of prostate cancer. My grandmother died of rectal cancer. And now, my Aunt is currently battling cervical cancer.

So imagine my dismay when I found out I have four kids for chemotherapy today…

Yes, kids! as young as one year old are now diagnosed with cancer. I slipped into the reverse isolation room and that’s where I met you, Marieliz. You were the oldest among the troupe, yet still so young to be sickened with cancer. If it weren’t for your pink pajamas I would’ve thought you were a boy. You’ve lost all your hair already, an expected reaction of your body from the chemo drug. It must have been hard to look at the mirror and see a bald version of yourself especially now that you’re approaching the stage of adolescence. But we both know there are far bigger issues than that.

I’ve learned you have been brawling leukemia your whole life and I was exalted to know you win everytime. How else would you reach 12 years of age? Of course you weren’t alone in this battle. Your mother was with you all the way. When I look at her, I see a mom who would dive into the ocean to save her drowning daughter even if she knew it would drown her too. She was a fighter just like you.

For someone with cancer, you seem so joshing. Every time I walk into your room you never ran of stories to tell. I remember how you spoke of your travels in Manila and how it topped the list of The Best Memories with your family. I remember how you recounted the day your sister developed a crush on another school boy, and made you wish you’ll have that feeling too. I remember how you long to come home and  would often call your sisters and ask them to come visit. And I remember the look in your eyes when they failed to do so.

You’ve always displayed a vicious energy, and so one day when you weren’t bantering of how your day was going I  knew something wasn’t right. I scanned through your chart and found that you have Pancytopenia which means you are low in everything: RBC, WBC, and Platelet. Any minimal infection could kill you now.

I don’t know how many units of blood we had infused in your system. All I remember is how you killed death every day that you lived. Your mom couldn’t be more proud.

But we all know you cannot cheat death all the time. Somehow, someday..your body’s gonna give in.

And yes, leukemia had finally consumed you. I performed your CPR in an attempt to bring you back to life, but knew too well that it was good-for-nothing. When the doctor asked me to stop, your mother jumped into my position and took over the CPR. At this point you’d think she’d already accepted your fate but no, she just couldn’t let go. It was almost too painful to see. And there I realized no matter what, no one would fight harder than your own mother for you.

I left the room. I left your mother to deal with her grief alone.

I know you have many questions in mind, Marieliz. Questions that I cannot even decipher. If you’re going to ask me how cancer snatched away your life, I can give you a detailed answer for that. But if you’re going to ask me why’s, I’ll leave that to the Big Guy up there. Don’t worry, your family will get by.

As for your mom, she is stronger than ever and can now overcome anything life throws at her. You taught her well, remember?

Sincerely yours,

Your Pedia Nurse

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