By Judith Labial-Amido
On September of 2020, I noticed that I that I could not urinate normally anymore. I had to press my tummy hard expecting my bladder to react but it could only give a few drips. I panicked but I thought it was part of the menopausal process since I’m in my 50s now. But I noticed that whenever I would wipe with a tissue after urinating, it felt numb and sore.
I limited my water intake in fear of edema, I developed hemorrhoids and I felt it started to swell. That numbness and swelling got worse. Several laboratory tests were done. My lumbo-sacral x-ray result was clear. The total abdomen ultrasound found no problem, even the colonoscopy.
The pain of knowing it was something serious
Then, I went through hemorrhoidectomy thinking it will solve the problem. Of course, thinking too that it was the problem. Weeks passed and my surgery was already healing. Instead of easing the numbness and soreness, the pain even got more intense and unbearable.
I would writhe, shout and cry so loud, shiver and sweat profusely. This would happen three to four times a day with a very little relief from the tons of pain relievers I took. My surgeon referred me to a neurologist who preliminarily said my pain involved the nerves so no amount of regular pain reliever would relieve, much less, stop it.
Instead of easing the numbness and soreness, the pain even got more intense and unbearable.
I was then given pain medication for nerves but after five days of taking them, I could no longer pee. For one whole day, I patiently waited if it would at least give a drop but it never happened. I got admitted to the hospital and was inserted with a catheter.
This time my neurologist administered a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to which I gladly agreed to find out what is the problem.
We deal with pains in life, but this one’s a level above the rest
The MRI result said I had a sacral tumor with the size of 4.2 x 6.7cm. It further said, “suspiciously malignant”. Located in the pelvic area, the pain had grown more and more intense as I would try to move around.
I could only stand for two minutes, walk 10 steps and lie down for a lucky 20 minutes then the pain would come all over again and would drive me nuts. I was always deprived of a good sleep; a straight two-hour sleep was a luxury.
A portion of the pain eased out but the soreness and numbness remain and the usual discomfort that I’m literally sitting on the tumor.
Then as suggested in the MRI findings, I had biopsy. Also, my anaesthesiologist suggested that I should have neurolysis to ease my severe pain which I also willingly obliged knowing my chronic suffering. Indeed, a portion of the pain eased out but the soreness and numbness remain and the usual discomfort that I’m literally sitting on the tumor.
As if my problem was not yet enough, I had a urinary tract infection (UTI) which again sent me back to hospital admission necessarily for IV treatment because I was immuno-compromised. And yes, all the COVID-19 protocols added to the cost and the procedures too. It all came out fast and too much for me to handle.
The initial shock and dealing with the reality of having cancer
The biopsy, after two readings, revealed that I had B-cell lymphoma which was also confirmed by the immune-stains. Later through a computerized tomography (CT) scan, I was informed that I had two tumors left and right almost of the same size and very aggressive. I was devastated.
Further, the scan also revealed that a 0.5cm pulmonary nodule was noted in my lung. With the confirmation of the fact that they are located near my pelvic area and very proximate to my spine, my oncologist-surgeon said she would rate it as Stage 4 Lymphoma and that I needed chemotherapy – 6 sessions at the least.
With the confirmation that they are located near my pelvic area and very proximate to my spine, my oncologist-surgeon said she would rate it as Stage 4 Lymphoma.
Even before the reality of having a stage 4 CA could even sink into my brain, I got rattled even more when the cost of medication was discussed.
I need to prepare P80,000 (USD1,700) for the chemo drugs alone per session; then, to prepare some more for any side effects that may be encountered along the way. Add the hospital procedures, of course. Where on earth will I go to sustain the treatment?
I rose from my humble beginnings, there was no other choice but work hard
I come from a poor family. But this made more driven than regretful with the skills that God gave me. I started working at a young age of seven helping my mother in her little cosmetology shop just to help the family get by. I worked even harder when my father died when I was 11 and struggled through high school doing manicure and pedicure jobs to support myself and help my family.
Even with the college scholarship that I have had, I took a job in the evening as a communication group REACT radio base operator for a regular income. The job required that I would come home at midnight on regular days and even beyond when there were emergencies oblivious that I had my Philosophy class in the morning at 7am.
I worked even harder when my father died when I was 11 and struggled through high school doing manicure and pedicure jobs to support myself and help my family.
All these to sustain the other needs of the family throughout my schooling. They called me the breadwinner of the family.
With my degree in AB Philosophy with a Master Degree in Business Administration, my career has been on many different realms as once a high school teacher, a college part-time teacher, a department manager of an electric cooperative, and now a government employee handling local economic enterprises.
Life is being a mother, a wife and a government employee
Work for me. then, has become “me”. I have not stopped working. I could never stop at giving my all whenever I am given a job because I believe that it’s a blessing and for the most basic reason that I need it for subsistence. When I already had a family of my own, blessed with 2 kids (ages 15 and 16) all I was thinking of was to work harder and even more for my kids.
I could never stop at giving my all whenever I am given a job because I believe that it’s a blessing and for the most basic reason that I need it for subsistence.
My husband Alejandro Singsong Amido is an Able-Bodied seaman, leaving me the care of kids with my sister and my mother most of the time. I thought life is but just work, work and work. A few vacations, yes, but yet work would always call and I know the grind would start again until one day I could not go to work anymore.
A call for help and support
My kind friends and family had helped me financially during the diagnostic process and I thank them for that forever. Combined with my resources, the bills were just growing from hospital to another that depleted my finances altogether. Now, I am undergoing my chemotherapy sessions. I am praying that I could get some help so that once I start I could regularly have it until the six sessions are done.
I pray so much and I know God is helping me through this tremendously. But it is also humbling to admit that I still need your generosity to complete the treatment and beat the disease.
My family has been one with me in this illness and I could feel their pain too.They really want to help me in whatever way, but they can only do so much in their capacity. My kids have their hopes high that if I finished my chemo treatment, I would be well and be normal again … and “she would not be writhing in pain anymore “ as my girl would put it.
I pray so much and I know God is helping me through this tremendously. But it is also humbling to admit that I still need your generosity to complete the treatment and beat the disease. I will forever in your debt. God bless you as generously.
Judith will need a considerable amount to win this battle against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We appeal from your kind hearts for help. Please send or deposit your kind support to Judith through these bank accounts:
- Judith L. Amido, Banco De Oro (BDO) Savings Account # 003330292088
- Judith L. Amido, Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) Marbel Savings Account #1839270743
Note: Please message Judith through the comments section or through her email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. She is currently focused on the treatment and avoids visits and phone calls unless urgent and related to her medical treatment. She will respond as her condition allows. Thanks for your understanding and support.
Judith Labial-Amido is currently the City of Koronadal’s Economic Enterprise Development Officer (since 2017. The city is capital for South Cotabato province in the Philippines. Previously she has served as Institutional Manager for South Cotabato 1 Electric Cooperative, Inc. where she worked for 16 years, a teacher in Notre Dame of Marbel for Girls for four years and one year as English Grammar lecturer in Beijing, China.