This is the story of a real-life warrior who's on a constant battle with multiple lifelong health conditions.
Josefina Cruz or Josie or Mami Jo, turning 58 on November 11, 2018 and mother of 4 has been suffering from diabetes since she was 40 years old and hypertension by 50 years old. Things were pretty normal, until mid of 2017.
June 2017, she was admitted to Divine Grace Medical Center due to low hemoglobin count and non-healing wound on her left foot. 1 week into the confinement, sepsis began to take its toll on her and was advised to be treated in ICU. This was when the nephrologist ordered emergency dialysis for 3 consecutive days. God is good that she's back to regular room after 4 days and was discharged after 2 weeks of recovery. Although she was told to go through dialysis sessions twice a week due to Acute Kidney Disease (AKD).
July 2017, the night after she was discharged, she had the sudden urge to defecate, but it was not normal. It was fresh blood coming out of her. It was so severe that she had to use diapers and replace 3 times that night. Josie was rushed to the hospital and was ordered to have 3 units of blood transfusion during dialysis. This went on for about 2 weeks, and the doctors had to give her a total of 14 bags of blood, because she would always defecate with fresh blood the day after the blood transfusion.
The nephrologist referred her to a gastrologist for a colonoscopy to determine the cause of the bleeding and this is where they found a mass inside her colon. Her children started to find an oncologist/surgeon who can perform the operation to remove the mass and conduct a biopsy. She also underwent a minor surgery for AV Graft creation to be used for dialysis in a few weeks. The family didn't knew that the previous diagnosis of AKD is progressing to Chronic Kidney Disease - permanent need for regular dialysis treatment.
August 2017, she was admitted to Philippine General Hospital for sigmoidectomy (removal of the mass inside her colon) and conduct a biopsy. She was discharged after 2 weeks of recovery, very weak. Her muscle mass started to shrink due to multiple treatments and surgical procedures in less than 3 months.
September 2017, she suffered from sepsis, again, due to her infected AV Graft, which was created last month. Josie was admitted to Philippine General Hospital and underwent AV Graft extraction, IJ catheter insertion, AV Fistula creation and 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment. As soon as she was discharged, the result for the biopsy was released - Colon Cancer Stage 3B. She was advised to undergo chemotheraphy, but due to multiple confinements, surgeries and treatments, the family decided not to go through the risks of another treatment.
These all happened within 4 months time. Josie, a loving, strong-heart, joyful and resilient mother found out that she had Chronic Kidney Disease - a lifelong health condition that requires dialysis treatment twice a week - Colon Cancer Stage 3B - a condition that will make, even the bravest of us, cry - and multiple confinement for surgeries and antibiotic treatments that lasts for at least 2 weeks each.
November 2017, she was advised by the surgeon that her AV Fistula may not mature to be used for dialysis treatment due to her diabetes, but was told to wait until the last week of December. Imagine the stress, which is not good for cancer patients, of knowing that the first week of 2018 will be spent confined, again, for AV Graft creation.
March 2018, she started complaining about back pain and 3 days after, she can no longer walk without support. Thinking that this was a condition common for CKD patients, the family tried self-medication, which was very wrong, especially for cancer patients. CKD and colon cancer are two conditions that creates too much confusion, because the pain is almost on the same spot. The pain that she felt required her to take Tramadol just to make it tolerable and went on for 2 weeks.
April 2018, she was admitted to Philippine General Hospital due to a pseudoaneurysm within the AV Graft that was created 3 months ago. After the AV Graft extraction, 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment and IJ catherter insertion, the doctors advised for a bone scan to determine the cause of her constant back pain. Josie was referred to a radiation oncologist, due to a suspicious mass found on her L4 vertebrae - the spine parallel to her colon. She was discharged after 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment, but was badly advised to undergo radiation therapy as soon as possible.
May 2018, she underwent radiation therapy at Medical Center Manila (ManilaMed). It was a 10-cycle treatment, but to no luck, the condition still progressed. She can no longer walk, even with support, and was bed-ridden ever since. This also caused her to develop severe bedsores, which later became one of the reasons for another confinement.
June 2018, the IJ catheter, used for dialysis, got infected and required extraction and femoral catheter insertion was made. This was also when the doctors told her that her colon cancer metastasised to her bone. She was discharged by mid of July 2018, after 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment and 1 week of recovery.
October 2018, she was admitted to Philippine General Hospital due to infected femoral catheter and infected bedsore. 2 weeks into the confinement she was intubated due to a Glasgow Coma Scale of 4 to protect her airway from further damages, during the treatment of her sepsis.
As of the time of this writing, Josie, my mother, who is in constant pain, agony and almost a year of in and out the hospital still fights for her life, hanging by a thread; hoping for our support to provide her with enough firepower (finances) for her battle.
Despite her condition, she never complained about what she is suffering and accepted it whole-heartedly. What touched my heart was that she still has dreams of being able to walk and go to church. I cried when I first heard her say that she had to prepare because she'll be late for the worship service.
Although heart-breaking, it is amazing to see one person suffer from multiple conditions - each can make anyone cry and lose faith - yet still dreams of going to the church and thank God for the life that she has. Some people would consider it to be unfortunate, but right now, she has done and is still doing everything that she can to extend and cherish her life.
What scares me is, not her defeat to multiple life-threatening conditions, but not having enough to support her willpower to win this battle.
Our hospital bill is now suspended and we are trying our best to provide her with the daily medication and treatments needed for her recovery, on a daily basis. We go on day by day, not knowing if we'll have enough for her medications tomorrow. So I am reaching out to everyone to please help my mom with her graceful fight against CKD, Colon Cancer, Bone Cancer and Diabetes.
I believe that a battle like this - a battle of love, faith and hope - should not be lost due to lack of firepower but rather due to lack of willpower. My mom has the willpower - enough for an army. But this constant battle has drained our resources, so I am knocking into the hearts of everyone who can read this letter to please, please help my mom have enough firepower to continue with her battle.
This real-life warrior is in need of our support and we are truly and deeply grateful for any assistance that you can provide for her treatment. Even a share, tweet or post will help my mom move closer to winning this battle.
Joan B. Cruz
Mobile Number: +63 977 1723 143 / +63 939 2345 772
Email: [email protected]
For Offline Donations:
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Account Name: JOAN B. CRUZ
Account Number: 0021 7021 6061
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Account Name: JOAN B. Cruz
Account Number: 0149 0250 14
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Reciever Name: JOAN B. Cruz
Mobile Number: +63 977 1723 143
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