(Ricky Ibe, 52, is a creative and events director. He lives in Cainta, Rizal.)
I have always declared myself a self-made man. Everything I achieved and acquired was because of my own doing. Then, I was made to realize it was not all about me.
In life, people face trials that test their core and character.
Mine came in 2016 when I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease – an aggressive, malignant tumor on the left part of the brain. Although the tumor was small in size, its location was critical – very close to basic brain functions such as remembering and waking up. For this reason, my doctors recommended against operating on it.
The sound of the word “cancer” can scare anyone, especially the one who has been diagnosed with it.
It made me ask God, “why me?” His answer, “why not?” He opened my eyes to the truth that He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6) and that He would help me go through those trying times (Proverbs 3:5). Not only did He give me the best medical team, a loving family and supportive friends, He also managed the finances needed for my medical needs.
I surrendered my life to God and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior on August 31, 2016. And He gave my life a complete turnaround.
The members of the medical team conferred to draw a treatment plan. The first step was for me to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy. After just four cycles, I had undergone an MRI scan to check for progress. Unfortunately, the four cycles of chemotherapy did not improve my condition. I found this so frustrating because by this time, I had already undergone several hospital confinements and spent a considerable amount of money on treatment. While I had the support of a competent medical team, my caring family and compassionate friends, I realized that the desire and decision to get well rested on me solely.
The treatment plan was shifted to 25 daily radiation therapy sessions. The sound of “radiation therapy” scared me because I knew it would have lasting effects on my quality of life. After asking about the course, consequence and cost of this treatment plan, I agreed to it. It’s not as if there were other options other than undergo it, or die.
I “graduated” from the radiotherapy “program.” I survived those short but toxic sessions. But even after that, I had to go to periodic MRI scans to keep my condition in check.
They were costly, confining and claustrophobic – those minutes of intense sound waves playing directly into my head were grueling. They say no one fully recovers from cancer. I think this is why cancer patients and survivors alike, have been classified by law to be persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Today, I still struggle with my balance, speech and memory, and coordination but I am thankful I conquered the challenge. I did not only survive, but I live. By my side is “The C” much bigger than the Big C — Christ Jesus who changed me and cares for me!
I became more appreciative of the smallest things because I knew they come from Him (Hebrews 11:36). He made me turn from my sinful ways (Romans 5:8). He guided my path to being Christ-like (1 John 2:6). He planted in me the desire to grow as a Christian. He led me back to Greenhills Christian Fellowship (GCF), which I had been attending since the late 90s. But this time as a baptized member. I have since, been part of a Growth Group, which is my support group in my walk as a Christian (2 Peter 3:18).
Did this mean my life has been free from challenges? Certainly not. But I now know who to anchor my aspirations, hope and trust on (Psalm 27:1). His plans and purpose for me are right and righteous (Psalm 139:16); His timing is perfect.
With Christ at the center of my life, I have been facing the COVID pandemic with confidence and faith because He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).