TWO BATTLES IN ONE LIFETIME (PART 2)

Rather than a victim, I see myself as a survivor.

On My Feet

From 16 to 19 years old. These were important years of my recovery. By this time, I could no longer stand or walk. I was almost bald. I was thin. And stretch marks were all over me. I was not at my best. I was homely—the best adjective to describe me in these years. Though I was thankful that I survived, I was depressed, bitter, and angry not only for the unpleasant physical changes that took place but more so that I had to stop going to school.

Yes, I was discouraged for a moment but I picked up myself and rebuilt my dreams and hopes to be on my feet. Because again, my will is stronger than my pain.

I continued my education and chose to swallow in acceptance all the odd changes and the academic delays I had. I enrolled in the International Correspondence School to finish high school. After taking the placement test and the special NCEE, I went back to a regular school for college. It was something I looked forward for the past few years.

Living the Life

And 20 to 31 years old. Finally, I got to be a typical kolehiyala. I got admitted in college and studied Bachelor of Science, major in Psychology. I was an irregular student and did not think I could finish and graduate because of my chronic illness.

Nevertheless, I focused on my subjects, found my way to the Dean’s List. And before I knew it, I already graduated. Sickness became just a part of my past. I finally had the taste of the life everybody else was living. My lupus did not bother me for more than a decade. So I lived a normal life. I had barkadas and I enjoyed my Sabado night outs.

It was wonderful. For the first time in a long time, I enjoyed life, thought of myself and not my disease. I was having the time of my life! At 25, I married my best friend and we had six blissful years.

Maybe you’re wondering why I used the past tense “had”. Because, yes, some things are not meant to last, just a passing phase in our lives that leaves wonderful memories to look back. (Well, that’s another story and another episode I could share.)

Again, I picked up the pieces left of me, and reorganized my life, my plans and my goals. I studied studied medical transcription and worked as a transcriptionist. I continued to savor life despite and in spite the bitter parts.

Another Battle to Win

At 33 years old. By this time, I have worked with IBM for four years. My SLE is still in deep sleep and hasn’t awakened. But as destiny would have it, I was diagnosed with a second major disease, stage 1A Breast Cancer.

I was heartbroken but more determined and hopeful that I would survive after all, I won the battle with lupus.

My company, IBM supported me in my financial and emotional struggles. They were there along with my family as I fought with every surgery and treatment I underwent while continuing to be employed with them.

With a loving family and supportive friends surrounding and encouraging me, I am once again a survivor. Illness will only bring you down if you would let it.

At Present. Despite being plagued with two critical conditions in one lifetime, I believe I am extremely blessed. I have my family and friends, and a community that stands by my side.

Rather than a victim, I see myself as a survivor. Though I have endured so much in life, I have been endowed as well with even greater things. There is nothing else that I would ask for.

I am grateful that I am with Virtualahan. Being a part of them has been one of my recent blessings. I am thankful to be in this generous community.

Nowhere have I found an organization that embraces people for who they are and supports them in any way they can. I hope to be a part of this team for a very long time.

______

And that’s the summary of my life and the battles I have won.

 

MONIQUE FOJAS

SLE

Batch 21

Paranaque City

 

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