A few minutes past five one early morning more than two weeks ago, just after waking up, my phone rang ,the screen displaying the name of the caller.
The unusual call came from a good friend, a kababata, who lives a few meters away. I immediately picked up the phone and asked my friend what was up. The person on the other end asked if my elder brother was already awake, the voice a bit hoarse than usual but calm, which led me to conclude that the call was no emergency. I told him to wait a few seconds while I check on my brother and returned talking to him just as quick, informing him that my brother’s room is still closed indicating he may still be asleep.
Asked what his purpose was, he just told me he has some personal favor to ask from my brother and mentioned he was heading for Cagayan de Oro. I told him to just come to the house and talk to my brother personally as I couldn’t talk to him much longer because I still have to prepare myself for work.
There was a tone of reluctance to the idea of him coming to the house as he told me that he was in the hospital. Thinking he was fetching his wife, a nurse, from work, I told him to just come immediately to the house once they arrive home . When he said “okay”, I immediately hanged up and started preparing myself to catch the bus for work which was scheduled to depart in less than an hour.
At around 6PM that same day, while I and almost everyone in the neighborhood were busy keeping ourselves cool in the midst of the unwelcome heat and darkness courtesy of a regular power curtailment, my phone rang again, this time the call was from another good friend, also a kababata and a mutual friend of my early morning caller.
He asked me if I was aware that our mutual friend was in Cagayan de Oro and I told him that he actually called me earlier that day and he did mention of the trip but did not mention the purpose of his visit to the city. But the next lines of information stated by the caller about our mutual friend surprised and shocked me beyond belief.
My friend informed me that the reason our mutual friend took an immediate trip to Cagayan de Oro that day was because he was advised by his doctor to undergo further tests as quickly as possible to confirm their suspicion on his state of health. He said that he learned about it from the siblings of our friend who resides near them.
I immediately called our friend to personally hear straight from him the truth of what I have just learned. Still in a hoarse but calm voice, he confirmed everything. I also learned that what he meant when he said during our conversation earlier in the morning that he was in the hospital was not because he was fetching his wife from work but was actually because he was confined, has been two days prior and was actually during that time, lying in an ambulance bed, about to depart for Cagayan de Oro.
He further told me that the initial assessment of the doctor who examined him was not good and that he may only have about six months left. But surprisingly, however, he is very hopeful . A father of four ,he is very determined to beat the disease not only for himself but more for his wife and children.
The news about his condition really came as a shock to most as much as it was to me because although I have noticed that he has somehow lost weight, he never complained or mentioned anything unusual about his health and was even present and joined me and our other friends for a drink during a small get together on my birthday the previous month.
My friend’s doctor in Cagayan de Oro suggested that he be transferred to Cebu City so that he could be examined further for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. And so after 2 days and after proper referral arrangements, he and his wife together with a couple others flew to Cebu.
Immediately after he was examined by his new doctor, he was then scheduled to undergo a bone marrow biopsy procedure. And two days after the procedure, the result came and confirmed everything. My friend has Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a type of cancer in the blood cells. His doctor then prepared a treatment course for him, which according to his wife, consisted of a 7day continuous chemotherapy session and follow up sessions once a month for the next three to four months.
As a layman, I could only notice that the term of the treatment is relatively short compared to other similar cases I know that takes more than a year or so of chemo sessions. And I am somehow hopeful that considering the shortness of the course, my friend may have a big chance of survival.
But I later realized that the actual battle has just begun and winning may not be as easy as I have perceived it.
The night after finishing his 3rd chemo session, I have learned from his wife that my friend was having high grade fever and has become weaker and his chemo therapy sessions had to be temporarily discontinued. There should be a 48 hour fever-free window for the sessions to be resumed but since patients undergoing chemotherapy are very prone to infection, he may easily contract fever at any time.
Making the situation even worse, while having this fever episodes, his platelet count drastically went below normal and he had to be infused with the same. Later on, other blood count parameters became unstable too and he then needed blood transfusion. There may be blood banks around but the availability and compatibility of the stocks are never assured. And since they are practically strangers to the place, finding a donor is quite difficult because acquaintances that could possibly help out are limited.
My friend’s condition showed very little signs of improvement, if at all, in the days that followed and his wife was so worried that she was asking for prayers from friends. It was obvious that she needed reassurance herself so I told her during our exchange of text messages not to worry too much and to just hang on because many of us are praying for them.
Until one afternoon, she was informed that her husband needed another blood transfusion but they had to look for blood somewhere else because there was no available stock in the hospital’s bank that matches her husband’s blood type. They immediately started scouting for donors and went to the different hospitals to secure the much needed blood. They have practically searched all over the city but couldn’t find any and her wife became so worried and desperate knowing that the scheduled time for transfusion is getting close and they have yet to find a donor.
But while their vehicle was temporarily parked in one hospital as they were planning what to do and where to go next, she narrated that from out of nowhere a stranger approached the vehicle’s window and asked if they were looking for a blood donor. She told him that indeed they were looking for a donor and mentioned the particular blood type. And the guy said he is of the same type and could donate.
My friend’s wife said that the thought of finally finding a possible donor after hours of fruitless and almost hopeless searches was more than a relief for her however she realized after visually examining and taking a closer look at the guy, she thought he wasn’t fit to be a donor because he looked unhealthy and appeared like a drug user. The guy said that if she was interested, he could ride with them back to her husband’s hospital so that he could be screened. But my friend’s wife was not comfortable with his personal assessment of the guy and was apprehensive so she suggested that they would just meet at the hospital at a suggested time.
When they left, my friend’s wife said she dismissed the idea of considering that guy a possible donor and was still desperate of finding one. They went back to the hospital empty handed and she felt like crying getting out of the vehicle but was surprised to see the guy waiting for them at the hospital’s entrance and again asked her if she would take him as a donor. Out of desperation, she accompanied him to the hospital’s blood bank. After the procedural interview, the guy was tested for blood type and was found to be indeed of the same type needed.
My friend’s wife said she felt happy somehow but was still worried of the possible result of the blood screening which was to take place after 8 hours. It was around 8pm then, she said, so he told the guy she would buy him dinner so he wouldn’t have to go home and to just stay in the hospital until the screening which was scheduled at 3AM the following day. But the guy told my friend’s wife something which I found very heartwarming:
The guy asked if it would be possible for him to just have the money intended for his dinner because he could not afford to be eating all by himself when his kids and wife haven’t eaten since morning, the reason why he resorted to selling his blood. And he promised to return by 2:30 AM.
My friend’s wife said she initially did not believe the guy’s story thinking it could be an easy alibi for him to leave and would not return considering the screening was scheduled in the wee hours. But she said the guy begged her so she gave in to the request, leaving to fate if he would be true to his words.
As the scheduled screening time was nearing, my friend’s wife said she was praying very hard that the guy would return because there was no other donor and his husband really needed transfusion. And at around 2:30AM she thought she heard knocks at the door so she immediately opened it and was very happy to see the guy standing outside with his wife, just as he promised.
The guy’s blood was immediately screened which fortunately passed for donation and my friend was able to have the much needed transfusion just in time.
Personally, looking at the entire picture, I could clearly see the invisible hands of GOD carefully placing things in the right places at the right time. Two desperate individuals, strangers to each other, trying very hard to find means to provide the needs of their respective loved ones, meet unexpectedly in a very unlikely situation, to provide for each other’s need. One that I would consider a miracle. A symbiotic miracle.
Stories of miracles I’ve heard before are more astounding than this, but this particular story, although some may consider as just a mere coincidence, is way more meaningful and more real to me. And for me, nothing happens by accident in GOD’s universe and there is no such thing as coincidence. Everything is part of a grand plan, a Divine Plan.
As of writing, my friend is still in the hospital, battling it out with what they call the big C. Cancer. And I would never know for sure who’s going to win and until when the battle has to be fought. All I know is that I, together with a lot others are praying, and praying hard that in the end, my friend would emerge victorious.
And I am very hopeful that all our prayers will be answered because I know that nothing can be bigger and more powerful than the C that I know.
CHRIST. Our Lord and Saviour.
So, just hang on my dear friend and believe that the sun will shine even brighter tomorrow.
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