KABANKALAN, Negros Occidental—Emmanuel D. Cabalatungan, 77, never imagined that he would be diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer.
“The diagnosis came as a shock,” Emmanuel, a retired public school principal, recalled in an interview with BusinessMirror.
Emmanuel, or “Jun” to his friends, recalled that sometime in 2021 he had sudden changes in bowel habits. He was also experiencing constipation, six months prior to the diagnosis.
Blood in the stool
Later his symptoms were persistent. He said he experienced bloody stools.
“That’s it. I said something is not normal here,” he suspected.
He and his doctor thought it was hemorrhoids but after the physical exam, it was something else. He was told to undergo a colonoscopy.
“My doctor suspected that it was ‘something inside’ the intestine,” he said.
They then proceeded to Bacolod City, a one and a half hour travel from Kabankalan, to undergo a colonoscopy.
After his examination, the doctor in Bacolod revealed the problem. There was a tumor in his colon.
I have Stage 2 colon cancer,” he said.
He added: “When you find out you have cancer, many questions will flood your mind.”
“But the good thing is that I will not undergo chemo or radiation. Another thing, is that it was detected early,” he said.
Emmanuel said he is thankful that he has strong family support from his wife Vilma,72, and his six children, Zhyrel, Judson, Giselle, Grace, Ian Try, and Kristian.
Vilma said that she tried to show her husband that she was strong so that he will not feel weak and hopeless.
“But when he was in the hospital and [due to the pandemic] I was not allowed to be with him since I am a senior citizen, I was crying. I cried with my children while we are inside the vehicle,” Vilma recounted.
God never fails
Emmanuel said that he constantly prayed to God to give him strength while facing such an ordeal.
His operation at Riverside Medical Center was successful. It was his granddaughter Febe who took care of him for a couple of days at the hospital before he was discharged.
Road to recovery
Once Emmanuel arrived home, he said that the road to recovery was never that easy.
“It was a major adjustment,” he said adding that his movements were limited while he was healing at home.
“There was also discomfort [due to the ostomy bag],” he shared, adding that he had to stay in bed most of the time and move slower than his usual pace.
Vilma said that they were then extra careful with her husband’s physical movements, diet, and even mental well-being.
“You really can’t help it but sometimes I know that he was getting depressed. But I told him he can get through it and just continue to pray,” Vilma, a retired public school teacher, said.
However, Emmanuel said that with patience, a positive attitude, the love of his family, and his faith, he was able to go back to his normal schedule and activities.
“But with limitations, of course,” he said.
Emmanuel eventually attended church services again at Good Shepherd Church and supervised their tailoring business, Avvaya Shop.
He said that he had to follow the orders of the doctor while recovering to avoid complications and prevent setbacks.
“God never fails,” he said.
To avoid recurrence, Emmanuel said, he has to go to the doctor every six months.
There is only one thing that Emmanuel is asking for and that is to fully recover from cancer.
“I am thankful to God. He really takes good care of me and my family,” he said.
Another thing to be thankful for, he said was that he was able to witness the wedding of his youngest son Kristian who got married on March 17.
“It is really your faith in God that will push you not to give up,” he said as he learned to treasure every moment and never take life for granted.
While he was thankful to God for his provision, Emmanuel also is grateful to his physicians, Dr. Roselle Serna, Dr. John Ignatius Ledesma, and Dr. Aaron Jacildo. He said they were God’s instruments who gave him the best care available.
In the Philippines, colon cancer according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization has recorded 17,364 cases in 2020 for both sexes on all ages. It places third after Breast and Lung Cancers.