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Of depression & determination - a year that was.

Don't hide your scars. Wear them as proof that you've fought a good battle.
Don't hide your scars. Wear them as proof that you've fought a good battle.
Sometimes life just leads you in unexpected directions. I never expected my life to turn out this way.  I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer. I had depression, surgery, and radioactive therapy.

365 days ago feels like yesterday. A year ago, I went through a total thyroidectomy. It was a 5-hour surgery under general anesthesia, leaving a 2-inch incision mark in the midline of my neck. Reflecting on this year made me realize what I had gone through – that I had CANCER, that I had to raise funds to cover hospitalization and therapy, and that I had been strong for my family. During this journey, I've met people who extended help, encouraged and prayed with me.

Vicente Sotto ENT Philhealth Ward Cebu
Vicente Sotto ENT Philhealth Ward Cebu

Philhealth Insurance
Pre-admission document requirements on funding assistance by PhilHealth

December 3, 2017: Surgery Day! I still can clearly recall when the nurse woke me up at 5AM to prepare. I need to be in the operating room at exactly 6:30AM. They've prep my IV line, checked my stats and did some paperwork. It was a day where I felt a crumbling mixed emotion of excitement and fear. Pretty excited because this is going to be my first surgical procedure yet fearful as I might not wake up after. With some muscle relaxants, downer or whichever sedatives running through the line, it felt like those teenager years gulping my 3rd set of Red Horse beer, reaching the corridors of the operating room - I was sober. Another round of checks conducted, we entered the operating room, rolled me in the butcher's table, inhaled some anesthetic air, then I blacked out.

A day after surgery, as if nothing happened really. With Phillip and Sun Choi visiting me at the hospital.

Heading home after 4 days in the hospital.
That smile! Heading home after 4 days in the hospital.
Few days after surgery, applying antibacterial ointment on the scar
On Science & Religion: Recovery & Healing
It wasn't easy at all. A week after we've arrived from New Zealand, t'was the month of June 2017, I started to strategize on my game plan - on how on earth will I be able to survive for a year without having to do work full time on freelance web development work.

Having to prepare emotionally, physically and mentally add up to the challenge on top of surgery preparation, recovery and lifetime medications cost.

I broke down.
Depression got me a hard hit blow in life.

Amidst all friends' invite to go out and dine outside, I preferred to stay home, cry until I fall asleep. Then I started to question myself that even I have the best of friends, family, and opportunities, I ain't still able to find sustained happiness. This kind of thoughts kept looping in within me:

  • Of all the people in the world who doesn't have main family responsibility, why me?
  • Where can I get that big lump sum of money for surgery, doctors' professional fees and lifelong maintenance medication?
  • Will I still be able to dive after surgery?
  • Will I be cancer free just right after surgery?
  • What if in the middle of an operation, I suddenly wake up and feel excruciating pain while my body's sedated?
  • What would my family be like if I pass away?
  • How can I make a difference and help those who have the same diagnosis as me?
  • How come my family has this faulty genetic makeup?
  • What will happen to me if I don't get this cancerous limp removed?
  • Will I have another good 5 or 10-year quality life?
  • What is the meaning of life and what's my purpose of having this challenge?

Question after question, these piled up that I found myself staring blankly for minutes, pretended to be nonexisting for hours, with uneasy and irregular sleeping patterns.

I gained weight and was under a continuous if else loop with never-ending what ifs. I have been blaming myself but I never, in any way, blamed God.

Perhaps fate has its way of balancing struggles and obstacles, that I found myself on a 10-hour boat ride from Cebu to Siargao. A realization struck me hoping that I will beat cancer one day. What's the difference between being succumbed by the waves of circumstances and literally riding the waves of Siargao? Nothing right? Both are metaphorical and subjective.

I need a break and a full tank refill of determination and hope, so off I go.

The week-long vacation got me that good boost that I needed. I was way than full of hope, willingness to fight and determination to beat cancer. Most of the time, we've got to take a break to realize what we are capable of overcoming.

I jot down all the questions that I have and started and individually looked for solutions and ways to get that line item crossed.

It has been quite a great year full of challenges in life. Let this post be a good start to keep this blog updated on my adventures, obstacles and life stories.


  1. Hi! I found your blog just today. I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma with Nodal Metastasis just the other day, and have also been advised to undergo Total Thyroidectomy by Dr. Cindy Tan. Have been very scared and anxious about it since, but reading your entries on your experiences made me feel a bit better. :) How long after completing the radiation were you able to get clearance to work again?

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