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"My Mom Died Of Cancer!"

Daryl Torralba shares the pain of losing her mom to a terrible disease.
photo by Dakila Angeles · Model used for situational purposes only

It's been a few years since my mom passed away, but I still feel the pain of losing her, especially when I recall our memories together. Trying to recover from the loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with.

My story begins in June 2006 when my mom underwent surgery to remove masses of abnormal cells found in her ovaries. The surgery was successful. However, the doctor said we had to wait for the result of the biopsy in order to find out the nature of the cells recovered from her surgery.

My mom was worried about the outcome of her biopsy. We prayed that the masses of cells wouldn't be malignant, but our deepest wish wasn't granted. My mom was found to have gastric cancer.

From the day I discovered she was sick, tears would well up in my eyes whenever I was alone. I worried about her while trying to deal with the pressure of studying. I was taking my exams during my first semester in the University of the Philippines, and I just couldn't seem to focus because thoughts of my mom always crossed my mind. Then I would start to cry because it killed me to see her suffering.

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A lot of questions popped into my mind. Why my mom? Why now when she was still so young? I never blamed God for what happened. Instead, I held on to Him and put my faith in Him. I knew at this point that two things were possible—she could either live longer or leave me forever.

My mom was a strong woman. After going through many hardships in life such as poverty and marital problems, she proved to be a warrior full of strength and faith in the battleground of life. For her, cancer was just a disease. Whenever I cried in front of her, she would always tell me, "Gagaling din ako, anak." It hurt me to see her that way, but she was full of hope.  She never gave up.

Mom took all kinds of medication, from chemotherapy to faith healing. Sometimes, she would feel better, but it was never long-term. Her recovery was unpredictable. Without knowing it, she was already at the worst stage of cancer. After her last chemotherapy session in December 2006, she became irritable and weak. She looked worse than she ever had before and I could hardly suppress my tears upon seeing her that way. I knew she was dying.

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Just a few days before Christmas, she was rushed to the hospital. She told me, "Anak, bahala ka na sa mga kapatid mo." At that moment, I hugged her tightly and told her how much I loved her. I pleaded with her to hold on, but God had a plan and He took her to heaven on December 20, 2006.

Dealing with the pain of seeing a loved one suffering and losing them eventually aren't easy. Aside from worrying about the usual things such as my studies, I had even more responsibilities as the eldest among my siblings. I learned to help my dad with our business, to budget our money, and to do many other things a mother usually does at home. It was difficult to shift from being a normal teenager to a responsible "mother" to my younger brother and sister.

Through this experience, I realized that when you lose someone you love, you are changed in one of two ways: you either become bitter or better. I chose to be the latter. My mom taught me to be strong like her. Though recovering is a slow and difficult process, I look at the positive side. I give my full trust to God because I know that like my mom, he wants me to become a stronger and more mature person.

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Daryl Torralba
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