“I am a cancer patient. May Leukemia ako”, My Story
I’m Carlo Zamora, 32 years old. And I am now facing the ultimate battle of my life: my fight against cancer.
It all started at the last week of December 2020 when my girlfriend, Mai, noticed a couple of bruises all over my body. But knowing myself I just told her that it’s not a big deal, they’re just bruises.
Come the following month, we went out of town to attend a family affair. She noticed that my bruises from the previous month were not healing, some even got bigger and there were new ones too.
She brought this up to her brother-in-law who is a doctor, who then advised me to have my blood checked.
At first I was hesitant because, first, they are just normal bruises to me. Nothing to be worried about because based what I know, bruises heal on their own. And second, I’m really, really afraid of needles(!!!)
Fast forward to getting the result.
I was wondering why Mai’s brother-in-law looked so worried checking the initial result. I was asking him what could possibly be wrong with me, and he said, he’s worried why my WBC is higher than my RBC.
I was honestly still confused about what was happening but my only worry and concern was that the area in my arm where blood was extracted immediately had a HUGE bruise.
We didn’t have time to wait for the full result of my initial blood test because we were bound to return to Manila that same day. So, Mai’s sister who is also a doctor, advised me to have another blood test, a complete blood work.
Next day, we did as advised and went to the nearest laboratory to have my blood checked, again. We were at the laboratory for only a short while. Before going home we dropped by a bakeshop to get warm pandesal for breakfast since we were starving because of the required fasting before any laboratory blood work.
When we got home, as a routine, I took a quick shower, and got ready for breakfast.
It was a good day. It was a perfect morning... or so we thought.
While eating, I checked my phone and saw a couple of missed calls from an unknown number - I didn’t bother. I then checked my messages and saw a text message from the laboratory where I had my blood checked earlier in the morning.
The text read: “This is from “X” Laboratory, inform lang po namin na nasa critical value na po ang platelet ni patient Zamora, nasa 13 na lang po. For referral din po ang inyong differential count ng CBC sa mga pathologist for further checking ng inyong dugo.”
At this moment, I wasn’t sure what to feel. I even replied to the number saying thank you with a smiling emoji.
I showed the text message to Mai, and she immediately consulted her sister. Not knowing what the text message meant, I just went back and resumed eating breakfast.
Moments later, I was looking for Mai because she was gone for awhile... her other sister approached me and said “let’s go to the ER”.
I was shocked.
I didn’t know what to do, what to think, what to feel.. even more so, when I found Mai in her room, preparing our clothes and other stuff that we needed for the hospital.
I couldn’t help it so I broke down. I was crying and scared.
I was scared of so many things, because in my 32 years of existence, I barely got sick, and I was never hospitalized. Then all of a sudden, I needed to be rushed to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital and went through the triage tents where we need to be checked before we can go inside the hospital. Forms were filled out, protocols were done, and then I found myself lying on a hospital bed in the ER.
I was interviewed countless times for the history of when everything started.
Laboratories were repeated.
Blood extraction for another CBC.
All while I was being transported using a wheelchair.
I was hesitant to use a wheelchair because I was feeling fine. I felt fine. I knew I could walk where I needed to be. But the ER doctors explained to me that I need to be careful of moving around too much because I might faint.
Moments later, my doctor came back and told me that my platelet count was down to 12 and I needed blood transfusion. I was wondering why my platelet count kept on dropping so I asked if my case was dengue because I wasn’t feeling anything unusual. I also asked if I just needed to eat healthier foods and adjust my water intake to help my platelet count get back to normal. But to my surprise, it wasn’t just a simple dengue case, it wasn’t anything simple - I was just seeing a single puzzle piece and I’m missing the bigger picture.
After hours of waiting in the ER, I was finally led to my room. Mai and her sister, Carla, were the only ones with me at the time, but I was surprised the her eldest sister, Tine, and her husband, Jules, also arrived. They travelled from Pampanga to check on me and what was happening in the hospital with all my laboratories.
I thought the day was done and I could finally rest, but we were just getting started with all the tests, and then my IV line was inserted.
A couple of days passed before my specialist came to check on me. When my doctor arrived, he looked at me, checked me quickly and then asked me the history of what happened and how we ended up in the hospital.
After a short storytelling, Mai was asked to the step out of the room so my doctor can talk to her. Mind you, I had no relatives with me at the time so my doctor had no one else to talk to but her - Tine and Jules accompanied her. I was nervous and scared at the fact that they really needed to step out of the room to talk - I knew it wasn’t anything simple and I still wasn’t prepared to hear the truth.
I was left inside the room with Carla and I felt that she was trying to calm me down by telling me happy stories, but all of a sudden, I thought of Leukemia.
She asked me how I came to that conclusion and all I remembered saying was that, I’ve seen this happen in movies and TV shows - unexplainable bruises, blood problems and everything that has been happening to me all turns out to be Leukemia cases.
Mai, Tine and Jules went back inside the room and explained to me that there’s a high chance that my case is Leukemia. I was immediately in tears. All I was able to think about was my family, my siblings, and Mai - and how I wasn’t ready to leave everyone. I did not understand what Leukemia is, all I knew is that it’s cancer, and cancer is scary.
The least of my expectations. Never in my life have I thought that I would ever have cancer.
So many thoughts were running through my mind. It was a good thing that Tine and Jules were there to talk to me and that they knew how to talk to me about what my illness is. It wasn’t easy for me to hear everything, but I also saw that it was hard for them to be telling me that what I have is something complicated. Something none of us ever anticipated. They stood by me and made sure that I understood what’s happening, what needed to happen and what my treatment plan was going to be.
One last blood test was done and I was ready to go home. This blood test was the identifying factor of the type of Leukemia I have but I was advised that results will be released after a week so I was allowed to go home for a while.
I was not allowed to go back home to Laguna as I was already a high risk patient. My immune system was relatively lower than everyone around me so traveling was a risk.
I was staying with Mai’s family while waiting for the result. The week of waiting for that result was the longest week of my life.
One week later...
Result: Acute Myeloid Leukemia
It has been a month since I was admitted here at Dr. Jose N Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and I’m now on my 7th day of chemotherapy for my first session.
This treatment is not easy. It has been hard on my body and I’ve never felt this weak before. But I’m always reassured by my doctors that the things that I’m experiencing right now are all normal side effects of the chemo drugs.
My doctor told me that I need to undergo Bone Marrow Transplant in order to avoid the early relapse of cancer.
Bone Marrow Transplant will cost about PHP1.5-2M, excluding all maintenance medicines I will need after.
We don’t have this kind of money and the ongoing treatment and medications already cost so much.
With the pandemic, I know many people are already having a hard time.
But I am humbly knocking on your kind hearts, asking for help. Any amount will go a long way and will be highly appreciated.
But more over, prayers and words of encouragement will be of great help too.
It’s my first time to be hospitalized and it is because of cancer.
Am I afraid? Of course I am.
But knowing I have Jesus and His promises. I can win this battle and I’m claiming it. Like what the Lord says in Romans 8:31 - “if God is for us, no one can be against us”. I may not be able to thank you personally but please know that the Lord is looking at your heart and He will bless you.
For help and donations, kindly see the below details:
Carlo T. Zamora
5996 4114 29