When Maria Cristina N. Macaranas was diagnosed with breast cancer at 50 years of age, she had no idea her journey would be associated with Hearts of Hope Society — the foundation created whose mission is to provide a support group for cancer patients undergoing chemo treatment & those who survived cancer for psychological, emotional, social & spiritual support.
Maria Cristina, who lives in Talon Dos, Las Pinas City, discovered her Breast Cancer Stage 2A. But her cancer type tends to grow and spread faster than others, is particularly aggressive, and requires immediate reconstruction followed by chemotherapy and chemo-related treatment.
“I can’t say enough about the family support I received during my entire treatment. Besides being very worried, my sisters and brothers were my motivators, always encouraging me during my entire chemo,” noted Maria.
During the treatment, Maria’s family members, including 3 half-sisters and 1 brother, supported her completely. Because of the Financial crisis, they even sold the property for her cancer treatment. She had undergone 6 cycles of chemo sessions, as she experienced chemo discomforts such as loss of hair, vomiting, constipation, numbness of fingers, loss of appetite, discoloration of nails, weakness & muscle pain. The experience she faced during the diagnosis was a loss of appetite, loss of weight, on & off fever, pain in the breast area.
“I did ok with the surgery, but chemotherapy was a different story for me. I lost my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. My face was bloated, so not only was I not feeling like myself, but I also didn’t look like myself. And I didn’t want to go out in public, not even to the grocery store. That’s when I needed extra emotional support to finish treatment and begin the healing process both physically and emotionally.”
It was hard during chemo treatment; she stayed home to rest & avoid contracting infections, as she is immuno-compromised. It was very hard on her family members; they naturally have a difficult time seeing their sister sick. “I tried to keep my routines the same as much as possible so they would not be scared, but it was hard. I do walking as my exercise and also do household chores to maintain a daily routine of my life”.
“Last Thanksgiving, my hair was growing back after having lost it all during chemotherapy, and I was beginning to regain my positive attitude, much of which had left me during my cancer treatment.”
After the final treatment, Maria’s life was going quite well, and also she was in recovery mode as she started following all the recommendations by her Oncologist. During Maria’s breast cancer treatment, her Oncologist recommended a Foundation to get a substantial discount for her chemo medicines. She also asked for financial help from financial institutions such as PCSO for her maintenance medicines.
Another hard time came for Maria and her family members when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 57 years old. During this time, Maria was already a breast cancer warrior; she was positively strong to fight and come back with ovarian cancer.
Since her ovarian cancer diagnosis, she has volunteered at Hearts of Hope Society to raise awareness about cancer and support people dealing with the disease.
“I had been going to the same medical practice for 7 years, and at the age of 57, when I got ovarian cancer, I was immediately scheduled for a biopsy of my ovaries at the clinics”.
Luckily, Maria’s Ovarian Cancer Stage 1C didn’t undergo chemotherapy. Not having a lot of problems and seeming to breeze through treatment, she felt even more blessed.
“I have received brilliant care from nurses and doctors and wish for all women to receive the same, despite their age,” noted Maria.
Today, at the age of 59, Maria enjoys living her life to the fullest with her part-time career, working as a warrior to help and motivate the cancer patients undergoing chemo treatment & those who survived cancer for psychological, emotional, social & spiritual support.
Her most important advice to other cancer patients: “Be your own best advocate. Listen to that little voice inside you. Especially when you know you have choices. Ask questions. Do your investigation. Don’t let fear guide you. Stand your ground. And don’t allow yourself to be rushed into making a decision.”
She feels very blessed. “I am healed,” she notes. “I have had divine guidance throughout my journey. I’ve made Christ the center of my life. He holds my future in his hands and lives in my heart.”
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