Wednesday, December 30, 2009
“Do you want a puppy? A Shi-tzu?”
Two years ago, I wanted one. Badly, but there was none to be had in Bacolod. Then I met Squirt and, later, Bama. Two Labs, plus a graceful askal/terrier named Dinah and a bright but temperamental dachshund called Chokie.
No, we didn’t need another dog.
But there's a young woman with lymphoma needing to raise funds for her chemotherapy, Mate said.
Mia Angela Hulleza wasn’t comfortable begging. She had made and sold beaded gewgaws and colorful t-shirts to help pay for her medical costs. (http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:ceTNg2f5Hg8J:newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20080419-131320/Cancer-patient-makes-God-look-hip-in-T-shirt-designs+mia+hulleza&cd=11&hl=en&ct=clnk )
She also didn’t want to be too attached to material things, Mate added.
That’s how Snowball and Chi-chu (or something that sounds like that) came into our lives.
A month and a half after we got the puppies, Mia came to our Greensville home when Mate interviewed her for the cable television show, Perspectives. A tall, very slim young woman in jeans and sweater, a colorful crochet cap covering the effects of chemotherapy, Mia was ebullient in the face of spreading cancer. She squealed with delight at seeing her two puppies again.
She had lived with cancer since second year in high school. She had gone through the jubilation of remission and the blow of recurrence and metastasis. Since 2007, she and her parents and Dr. Adonis Guancia had battled mightily to turn back cancer, which had hit her lungs. It was more like treading water just to keep from sinking.
Mate used her cable show to urge help for Mia. I wasn’t too sure about singling out a patient. There were too many that needed help and I didn’t have the information needed for an informed judgment. But there was something special about Mia; her spirit refused to give up dreaming – of one day being able to swim in the sea the whole day, of backpacking, of finally going to college and learning more about art – and yet she looked at life’s harsh realities with an unflinching gaze.
Just before Christmas, we got the bad news of Mia landing in the ICU. On a visit to Dr. Guancia, to give some help for child cancer patients, I learned that it was pancreatitis, origin unknown, and that it didn’t look good; that she needed sustained dialysis, and that this just wasn’t only extremely expensive but also dangerous for her ravaged body.
We planned to visit Mia in the hospital but were told that she had gone home. We had planned to drop by when her health could allow for visitors. Early January, we thought.
Tonight, I’ll look up and imagine Mia twirling and dancing amid all those colorful bursts of light. With all her energy finally let loose, there’ll be help in storming the heavens for those coping with cancer, their own or that suffered by their loved ones.
Happy New Year, Mia. Enjoy your freedom.