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Cherish S Garcia

 

csgarzia@yahoo.com; Manila, Philippines; http://cherishsg.multiply.com

1973 / Class of '08 / Type: IgG-Kappa / Chemo, PBSCT / Remission / Updated: 11/12

November 2007: (Sharja, UAE): It was a busy month for me because I’m preparing some stuff for our newly built house. I am going to take a two-week vacation by December to settle very important matters and spend the holiday season in my home country (Philippines). A great opportunity to have house-warming too while I’m there. I’ll be with my family once again… yahoo!!!!

A BIG thanks to my Boss, he allowed me to go… such a very nice guy… one of a kind boss! Whew!

With all these things going on… at the back of my mind know that I am feeling something on my body. Body pains, late afternoon fever goes on every day, non-stop cough (dry), flu… all these I just brushed aside as something caused by the change of weather (winter is fast eclipsing the summer)

December 2007: (Manila, Philippines) Yes! Finally I’m home again! Miss my family so much!... still some busy weeks ahead for me since Christmas is fast approaching and we are trying to complete the house for the blessing. The pain and fever hounds me no end but I still try to ignore it and instead I went for a massage (chiropractor) to relax myself, and rest for a couple of days… (2 days….hahaha) then back to work again… the pain never really left me since then.

Christmas came and house warming done… Thank You Lord! For the wonderful blessing you’ve given to us. These all happened in the Glory of Your Name.

January 2008: (Sharja, UAE) Back to the office (Sharja) again… work like no end once again! The weather is really cold out here and it rained. Can you imagine me driving in the middle of the rain, yes, driving on flooded roads here in the middle of the dessert…? Middle Eastern country… floods!? Hahaha… well… you can never really tell what can happen next.

I'm still in pain and fever so I decided to see a Doctor… well finally!!! hahaha… tsk tsk tsk… there’s got to be something in here and I can sense it.

The following day, I went to the hospital with my housemate, I need to be admitted.

Skeletal surveys, 24 hrs. Urine tests, blood test and bone marrow biopsy are made.

The result: SEVERAL RIBS FRACTURED and BONE LESIONS – What is that? Hmm… something tells me this isn’t good. Hmmnnn…..something suspicious.

They wait for the results of bone marrow biopsy (which takes two weeks) to make sure what is this.

They had to wait for the results of bone marrow biopsy (which normally takes two weeks) just to be sure what’s in me.

And then it came... “KA-BOOM” – it’s the dreaded BIG “C” CANCER: Multiple Myeloma…

That day I just cried and cried, alone in my room… no family to share with. I'm all alone in a foreign land. I called my husband, my boss and my very special friend, Joanne to break this sad news. Things totally changed for me. I asked myself “am I going to DIE?”. I'm still very young and my son is only 9 years old. What is this? Why it has to happen? Why… Why?... so many questions… can’t find an answer. It can’t be… it just can’t be.

February 2008 – March 2008: (Al Ain, UAE)

"My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word." Psalm 119:28

My initial diagnosis was IgG-Kappa MM stage II/IIIA and ISS II, with IgG-K of 66.7 g/L. Bone marrow showed extensive infiltration of plasma cells. Treatment started immediately. My first cycle of chemotherapy and my first time in a situation like this… kind a weird… I have no idea how am I going to handle this. From what I’ve seen on TV and what I’ve heard from people who also underwent this procedure I know it’s not going to be easy. The side-effects of the procedure and all that, it seems pretty scary. But on the back of my mind I am also quite prepared, well... a bit? hehehe. Imagine, I even cut my long hair short because I know I can lose hair in a few days after receiving the treatment… get the idea how prepared I am?! hehehe

 

 

My Chemo Regimen:

Doxil - every month

Velcade - twice a week, for two consecutive weeks.

Zometa - every month.

 

April 2008: (Dubai, UAE) Pain and fever came, skin rashes and lymph nodes manifested! I wonder why. I rushed to the hospital and right there was admitted for observation. And then they discovered that I am having severe allergic reactions to VELCADE so they had to omit this from my regimen. Oh what a SHAME! That day I was so down and lonely because from what I heard from most of the nurses at the hospital and according to the recent studies, Velcade is the most potent medicine for MM. But my oncologist told me that I need not worry because he will give me a very good drug combination which can turn out to be as good as Velcade. Though I had serious doubts I had to agree with him since it could be my only hope. I instead prayed hard and hope that with Divine interventions my new regimen works.

Still I was hoping that one day as I visit my onco he would tell me… ”Okay, Cherish you will now resume taking Velcade. The negative reactions of it to your body no longer exist.” But those words never came. So I had to ask him “Doc, when are you going to give me back my Velcade?”, but then he said “No, I won’t give you that anymore. You know the drug combination I gave you is already doing great on you”. Really? Wow! I thank and praise GOD for this. Imagine even if the latest and the most potent drug for this beast was not applicable on me, there is something better in store for me! GOD is really amazing! That’s all I can think of at that point.

Alternative Chemo Regimen:
Doxil - every month
Thalidomide - 200mg every day
Zometa - every month

May 2008: (Dubai, UAE) Chemotherapy continues, on to my 7th cycle. I was told to get ready for my bone marrow transplant (BMT). I am ready emotionally, But financially? Huh!

Bone marrow transplant typically cost around US$ 67,000.00 (roughly 3 to 3.5 Millions of Philippine Pesos!) Whew! Where in the world will I get this??? Here comes another problem again…

August 2008: (Dubai, UAE) 8th cycle done! I’m still working on the funds for my transplant. I tried asking my insurance company to cover this, but initially they refused saying it wasn’t covered. It didn’t stop me from hoping. I prayed hard for Him to help me find solutions. Until one day, I received a call from the insurance manager. I didn’t know what to expect until he started telling me “Cherish, I made a request and appeal your case to our head office in UK to give you considerations. You know what; they miraculously decided to cover all the expenses of your transplant.” I didn’t know what to say. I’m speechless that moment all I can remember is that my tears started falling. I'm crying all throughout our conversation. Hallelujah! I couldn’t say enough thanks to the manager. And Never stop thanking and Praising God for this Miracle.

Bags are packed. Everything’s ready, booked my flight (my transplant will be done in Manila), the doctor who will do the procedure is all set, my insurance documents are done, medical reports and other stuff. I'm raring to go home.

A week before my flight, my onco phoned me to say, “Cherish, How are you? Well, I just want to tell you that you don’t need to undergo transplant for now because your last bone marrow biopsy shown nothing at all. Malignant cancer cells are not detectable and as per the new study it is not advisable to undergo transplant. It’s plain nonsense at this point.” Since I am fine (!), I only need to have a stem cell harvest and keep them for future use. Yaaahooooo! Hallelujah! Praise GOD! Another Miracle in just a matter of weeks! GOD is truly amazing! I cried tears of joy. I’m so thankful for this wonderful blessing!

HEALING...!

For it is said...."He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24

"He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave." Psalm 107:20

I'm still taking a vacation and to have my stem cells collected. Insurance will still cover all the expenses.

September 2008: (Manila, Philippines) Everything is ready. I’m curious how stem cell harvest will happen. Hmm…

First day at the hospital: They inject me with this thing for three days. They say it will boost my stem cells more.

Stem cell harvesting day.

Machines and other apparatus are set. I’m lying in the bed, waiting for the doctor. They started checking my vital signs, had IV’s and all the necessary things.

Then they started the process. It was a just a simple procedure. It’s like you’re having blood transfusion. Only the difference is that your blood gets segregated into three, the plasma cells, the red blood cells and the white blood cells. Keeping only the plasma cells, the other two were infuse back to me. All these done by a single machine.

It took about 4 or 5 hours. After that, it’s like nothing happened. I’m ready to go home. The collected stem cells are now set for storing to be frozen for my future use. Well, I told to myself let be kept there for life! Hahaha!

Thanks to Doc. Catherine Rosales and to all the nurse of Medical City.

December 2008: (Manila, Philippines) Vacation time once again. I’m with my family, enjoying each day of my second life.

January 2009: (Dubai, UAE) Back to reality. Need to work again here in this foreign land. I have no other choice; I have my free medications here and still have some financial obligations to fulfill. I just bear in mind that I need to live a healthy life, not only emotionally but more so spiritually.

Thank you LORD my GOD!
Thank you JESUS!
All Glory & Honor are yours!

May 2010: (Dubai, UAE) The most special day in my second life. The true revelation of my salvation. With our church pastor, explain and teach the word of GOD and my salvation. Knowing how I am going to be saved and for me to enter the Kingdom of God. And for this, I wholeheartedly accept

JESUS as my saviour and my Lord! Hallejuiah!

Thank you LORD for giving us your SON to redeem me from my sins.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,..." 1 Timothy 1:1

From that day on…. I continue to serve my GOD, to offer my life, my talent, my testimonies as a living sacrifice for Him. Hoping to be an be an inspiration to others that no one can heal you, no one can give you good situation in life, no one is best because of himself alone, no one can help you in your biggest problems a man can give, NO ONE! But ONLY JESUS! Only GOD!

"I and the Father are one." John 10:30

Thank You...

For all You've given to me, for all the blessings that I cannot see
Thank You, Lord
With a grateful heart, with a song of praise
With an outstretched arm, I will bless Your Name
Thank You, Lord, I just want to thank You, Lord
For all You've done in my life, You took my darkness and gave me
Your light. Thank You, Lord
You took my sin and my shame, You took my sickness and heal all my pain.
Thank You, Lord. Thank you Lord.

My favorite song by Don Moen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6VqSb1Ek-E 

March 2010: (Dubai, UAE) I’m depressed… My blood counts are not that good. The blood counts which we are monitoring since my last illness was on the rise for the past four (4) months. Pain, severe numbness and other unusual things I started feeling. My onco told me to have an immediate bone marrow biopsy. AGAIN!??? I hate it, I really do!

It’s so painful! You can just imagine I will be injected with this thing as big as half the diameter of a pen directly to my bones in my back and aspirate blood from it! Wwwaaaaahhh! Oucchhh! Also, the thought that the beast might be coming back… brings pain to my mind and my heart.

Problems... they all come together. I’m having delayed salaries for 5 months in the office compounded my woes in my financial obligations. What is this? Thought I’ll never ask GOD why this is happening. Instead, I prayed hard that night, I cried out to Him all my burdens and ask Him to please give me peace in my mind.

"My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." Psalm 119:28

And His answer to me.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Mathew 11:28-29

May 2010: (Dubai, UAE) Hi there again. I got the results of my bone marrow biopsy. And guess what! I am still good! Hahaha! They did not found anything! Still in REMISSION!

Hallelujah! Thank you LORD JESUS!

My onco told me that the pain, numbness and other unusual things I am feeling is just part of the effects of the medications. And for that, he reduced the dosage until such time that they will totally be stopped. (Wow, I’ll be longing for that day!)

Life goes on, never mind all those unusual feelings and continue to live a clean and healthy life. And the most important thing is to always be spiritually recharged.

See you next update on how the LORD is moving in my LIFE. GOD Bless you all!

March 2011: Hi everyone! Hope everything is all well. Just to give some update on my MM conditions. Currently, was been unemployed and went back to Manila, Philippines to rest for a while.

The only medications I am taking now is Thalidomide, I am still on 100mg/day. Other than that just a multivitamins and an ascorbic acid. At least help to protect my immune system. Good and healthy lifestyle is my focus now since I will no longer getting a free thalidomide since I am not anymore in Dubai, who cover all my medications and follow check ups.

I am just praying that God will continually give me good health conditions.

May 2011: God is so good! I got a new job! Still on overseas…thanks to God! I can now support my medications since it’s really expensive.

Another Thank you to my Big GOD! On the medication I am taking, Thalidomide. My doctor refers me to a manufacturing company that gives huge discount! I mean almost half the price….that is a big help for me and my husband!

Still on 100mg/day Thalidomide and advise by Doctor to have my every 2months check up move to every 3months! Wow! And with all my Blood test….CBC, SPEP, Creatinine and 24hr Urine test are all in normal range! GOD is so Amazing!

August 2011: (Manila, Philippines) Latest from me, I'm still in remission! Hallelujah! Praise God! But I’m still on my maintenance of 100mg of thalidomide per day. There are still some body pains and numbness but doctor said that it still part of the side effects of thalidomide but the rest are alright. I can do everything a normal person can do but with caution. I am also currently working.

All this, I praise and give Glory to GOD! For He is my healer and great provider!

April 2012: After a year of monitoring my blood test results, we’re still able to manage to have it all in normal range! Halleluiah!

Also, my follow check ups are moved to every 6 months!!! That is totally great!

But this month also, I stopped taking my medication (100mg/day Thalidomide) without telling my doctor, because it became out of stocks, and cannot afford to buy it in commercial drug outlet since its very expensive.

What I did only was, I just took some supplements. Aside from my vitamins and ascorbic acid, I also took some curcumin tabs (I am reading a lot of good benefits especially for MM). I am a bit worry how this affect my health without taking my prescription. :-(

I just prayed and leave it to God, I know and I feel that He has something for me already so I will just wait and see on my next check up.

October 2012: Ready to fly back to manila for my check up. I was asked to do my lab test and wait for 10 days for the result. I told my doctor that I am not taking my Thalidomide already. I told her the reason.

Hooorraaayyyy!!!!! Lab test are all fine!! Halleluiah! I am still in good shape even without taking any prescribed medications for 7 months! Only just my vitamins and supplements!

Numbs are less now, pains are less as well….I really feel great! Is it a sign that I can have pregnancy again? Hehehe ;-)

But seriously, I really thank God for all these! He’s the one who make this all happen. I love you Jesus! Praise God!

See you on my next updates! God bless you all!

Psalm 7:17 - I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High. 1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

 

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