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How Much is Hope?

A year ago, my family mourned over the loss of an aunt who suffered from Acute Myeloid Leukemia. This incident turned the word “leukemia” into a very terrifying terminology, equating it to a mishmash of drained family resources, sacrifices and pain.

My aunt was running 60’s. She had already eaten her favorite food, had been to places she wanted to visit, had met people she loved to see and had planted all the herbs she planned to nurture.

But this time, leukemia is producing a darker color.

Conversations with my folks have it that a neighbor in Sagada was diagnosed with the same type of leukemia my aunt had.  He is 18-year old Charles Ansibey. In Sagada, he is more known as "Ambot". Charles comes from a family that depends on their small rice farm and vegetable garden. He has three siblings; one of them is my age mate.

Finally, we received a communication from the alma mater Sagada National High School about reaching out to Charles’ family. We then visited Charles at the Baguio General Hospital to discuss it with his family.

According to the doctor’s recommendation, Charles should undergo six chemotherapy cycles in six months. Each chemotherapy cycle is worth P17, 000 or around 400 USD, not to mention about other miscellaneous hospital fees he will encounter.

His family already spent tens of thousands of pesos for his earlier medication. He was first diagnosed with anemia. The latest laboratory test from St. Luke’s Hospital in Manila worth about P20, 000 broke the sad news that he is now sick with leukemia.

We launched a social media campaign to gather funds from alumni of our school. We used this personal blog to explain his very depressing situation. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites were also literally exploited, alongside with SMS sending. In two weeks, we were able to collect about P13, 000. Blessings are still pouring. Thanks God.

We struggled to inform other people about it. Everything turned out well- with the help of some good people. A batch mate working in Europe learned about the news and sent a good amount. She was one of the first people who contacted me about some special concerns. Others voluntarily collected donations from their batch mates in different places, and then sent the collection to us here in Baguio City.

We received two overseas phone calls, one from Spain and one from Hong Kong. The moment when we learned that tens of people are helping us with the cause was miraculous.
Last night, we delivered the tentative collection. Visibly, the family is running out of resources. It was the same thing that we underwent last year. We reached Charles’ room with a small group conducting a simple religious session.

We learned that Charles was initially undergoing his first cycle of chemotherapy. In the middle of the process, his blood count went down terribly. This led to the temporary stop of the medication. He was transfused with 19 bags of blood already and is expected to receive 3 more that time.

One bag was already made available from the blood bank and the sources of the other two are a still mystery. According to the family, they are prompting to get a very expensive bag of blood from Pangasinan. They have no choice.

Yesterday was his 22nd day in the hospital.

Behind all these challenges is the magnificent mother Carmen/Marlyn who continues taking good care of her son. Her husband Odasco is busy farming in Sagada. Charles’ siblings are working to keep both ends meet. God bless this family.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.


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