My mother was diagnosed of Multiple Myeloma blood cancer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to raise Php2,500,000.00 or $52,000.00 (at Php48.72 exchange rate for $1) for her bone marrow transplant/stem cell transplant as soon as possible while she is in stringent complete response with chemotherapy and transplant is still an option for her survivorship.
Iluminada Antonio Balinjare, 64 years old from Bacoor City, Cavite, Philippines, is commonly known as “Luming” to her friends and in our community. She spent mostly all her life working hard in order to sustain the needs of our family along with my late father, Vicente. To her friends and relatives, she is someone you can rely on whenever you need help. As for me, I see my mother as a warm and loving person; someone with great strength and resilience; and someone I cannot live without. She finally started to move on from when my father passed away last 2019, not knowing that a year later, she will face her new challenge, being diagnosed with a blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma. Among the uncertainties, the only certain thing for sure is, I will be with her on her battle against cancer. I will not be able to make it alone; the reason why I am pleading for your support. Give my mother a fighting chance, please.
"I know that life is hard, but I still want to live longer…” – Mama
What is Multiple Myeloma? As explained by the hematologist of my mother, it is when abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, and the count of this cell over empowers the count of other healthy cells. For instance, the bone marrow cannot produce the other healthy cells because the plasma cells are already taking the space supposed to be for the healthy cells. In the case of my mother, she experienced an extremely low count of hemoglobin. Her bone marrow cannot produce red blood cells normally because the number of plasma cells in her bone marrow is high. Through chemotherapy, these abnormal cells will be eliminated.
According to mayoclinic.org, “Multiple
myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma
cell. Healthy plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that
recognize and attack germs. In multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells
accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than
produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can
(While at the hospital, after endoscopy and blood transfusions.)
- The battle of my mother against Multiple Myeloma started last June 2020. She started feeling weak, tired and experienced shortness of breath. The worst part is, we found blood in her stool later on. Because of this, we went to a laboratory clinic for a check-up and we found out that her hemoglobin count is extremely low, to the point wherein she might have a cardiac arrest. We were informed that she needs a blood transfusion ASAP.
- Because of COVID-19, it was a challenge to find a hospital where she can be admitted. During that time, the number of COVID-19 patients is rising and hospitals are at full capacity. Fortunately, with the help of good people, we were finally admitted to a hospital. All the necessary tests were done to find out her condition, endoscopy and bone marrow biopsy are needed but before this, we were at the hospital for 3 weeks (July 2020), waiting for my mother to be stable before these procedures are done. During this period, she had infections and in need of antibiotics. She is still bleeding and the availability of blood and blood donors is one of our problems. We transfused 15+ bags of red blood while she was admitted. I thought I will lose my mother at this moment.
- With the help of the Lord and the people who support us, she became stable. By July 2020, she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Her hematologist, Dr. Frances Alexandra Sapinoso, explained to us that she will go undergo chemotherapy for 4 cycles (once a week, for 4 months). Her medication includes Velcade, Cyclophosphamide, and Dexamethasone, along with other maintenance medicines. Ultimately, if she will be in a complete response to chemotherapy, it is recommended for her to undergo a bone marrow transplant/stem cell transplant, as advised by her transplant doctor, Dr. Maria Regina Pelobello-De Leon.
- From July 2020-December 2020, my mother underwent chemotherapy for 4 months. In between this period, we were admitted to the hospital due to infections and pneumonia. In her case, it is a must to be admitted to the hospital whenever she catches an infection.
- Her chemotherapy is extended for 2 months (January 2021-February 2021) since we still have no budget for the transplant. And also, to achieve a complete response to chemotherapy before the transplant.
- In the 2nd week of February 2021, we thought that my mother will finally be able to undergo the transplant. Unfortunately, we underestimate the cost and thus found ourselves incapable to continue at this moment. This is the very reason why we are raising funds through this platform. To continue the chemotherapy and eventually, to fund the bone marrow transplant.
- This March 5, 2021, we had a meeting with her transplant doctor, telling us the current status of my mother, the risks and options available. If we will not push through with the transplant, we will do the maintenance chemotherapy. But as she has explained, my mother is in her best condition as of the moment to do a transplant since she is in stringent complete response. This is the highest level response to qualify for a transplant. She also mentioned that we are taking into consideration the age and the overall physical health of the patient before pushing through the transplant. In my mother’s case, she is most qualified. The only problem is the financial aspect. This is the most heart-breaking part because as her child, I cannot do anything for her. While transplant is still an option, I want to do my best to help and reach out to people who can help us in our battle.
(This is when she finally discharged from the hospital.)
(This is when we celebrated New Year's Eve 2021)
- Financial Support: Given that my father passed away in September 2019 due to kidney failure and I am an only child, we only rely on (1) my salary as a rank-and-file employee, (2) sales from our small sari-sari (convenience) store, and (3) monthly social security system pension of my mother. Unfortunately, computing our source of income versus the medical expenses (chemotherapy, maintenance medicines, doctor’s fee, and laboratory tests every session) shows how incapable our financial capacity is to attend to the needs of my mother. The chemotherapy for the last 6 months plus the hospital bills when we were back and forth to the hospital already took a toll on us financially. We need to prepare Php140,000.00 or $2,874.00 per month for each cycle of chemotherapy and Php2,500,000.00 or $52,000.00 for bone marrow transplant. In my mind, where in the world can I source this amount…
- Physical Support: As I have mentioned, being an only child, I am only the one who assists my mother when we visit the hospital for chemotherapy. Due to work, sometimes I feel guilty whenever I am not able to accompany her and call someone instead. As much as I want to be with her most of the time, I just cannot leave my work as it supports our financial needs. This honestly agonizes me.
- Government Support: Unfortunately, Multiple Myeloma is not commonly known in our country. Unlike in the United States and other foreign countries where there is support from the government, here in the Philippines, we do not have that option specifically on Multiple Myeloma patients. Living in a third-world country and having this disease is really a challenge. If you do not have the money, you cannot survive.
Be Our Hope
This is the last resort that I can think of. I believe that if you do not ask for help, no one will help you. That’s why I am doing this, even though it is too much to ask while we are in the midst of pandemic. I am pleading to your good hearts if you happen to read this fund-raising campaign, PLEASE…PLEASE HELP US… Any amount would be a big help to us. I believe that my mother has a great fighting chance. I might not be able to return the favor directly, but I will definitely pay it forward in every chance that may come along in the future to also help those in need, as I am experiencing the same situation right now.
For donations, you can deposit them through:
Cynthia A. Balinjare
BDO (Banco De Oro) Bank Account
Cynthia A. Balinjare
For verification of the condition of my mother and the legitimacy of this fund-raising, you can reach the Hematologist and Transplant doctor of my mother through this links:
Dr. Frances Alexandra Sapinoso - https://seriousmd.com/doc/fsapinoso
Dr. Maria Regina Pelobello-De Leon - https://seriousmd.com/doc/gdeleon
If you want other supporting documents like medical records and laboratory results, you can reach me at [email protected] I already scanned the documents for this very purpose. You can also message me on my Facebook account (https://www.facebook.com/wnemocyne).
Again, thank you very much for reading my fundraising campaign up to this end. I am hoping that I would be able to get some help through this platform. Through God's grace and your support, nothing is impossible. Be our HOPE.
Hoping and praying,