Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Life is like a school of hard knocks. You had to go through a series of struggles to push you into action, especially when you're feeling complacent and uninspired. Just like what happened to me through the years...
2011 - When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had to take an indefinite leave of absence from my clinic because I had to undergo a major surgery a week before Christmas. I had to choose between three options but all involved an operation that would leave a disfiguring scar that will extend from the middle of my chest to my left armpit.
2012 - One month after my surgery, I had chemotherapy and lost my hair, my sense of taste and appeared pale and ashen. Before that, I had to choose between a shorter course with my surgeon or a longer one with a medical oncologist who requested for work ups and treatment that would cost an arm and a leg.
2013 - When I was done with my chemotherapy, I just needed to take an oral medication for five years. I had doubts about going back to my private practice so I became a real estate broker/agent of a well-known developer for a few months. However, my heart was not in it so I decided to rebuild my private practice as a general pediatrician from scratch because I lost most of my patients when I got sick.
2014 - Just over a year of going back full time in the hospital, I had to shell out a considerable amount of money because I had to move my clinic to the new medical tower building. I had to sell some of my stocks to be able to pay the advance rent that was required but would tie me up for ten years.
2015 - I wanted a different environment to practice integrative medicine because I envisioned a holistic approach to help my patients. I partnered with two other integrative physicians, Doc Romy Paredes and Doc Pao Tongson and set up the Wellnessland Health institute Manila (WHIM) in Quezon City but it was about three hours away from my other clinic in Calamba, Laguna.
2016 - I had a major car accident along South Luzon Expressway while homebound with my relatives whom I picked up from Fairview after arriving from Sydney, Australia to visit my maternal grandmother. I thought it was the end of my life because I saw a white light. It was just my airbag that inflated because of the impact of the collision.
2017 - Due to the far distance I had to travel and the time and effort that it cost me, I decided to let go of my clinic in Quezon City. But I still continued to give talks to different groups and institutions on how to awaken the healer within and to take charge of one's health as part a non-governmental organization (NGO), Self-Health Empowerment Movement (SHEM), founded by my good friend, Doc Romy Paredes.
2018 - Since I went full time in my private clinic at Calamba Medical Center, I decided to bring my advocacy to my own patients. I gave two talks on self-health empowerment together with my former partners but only a few families took the opportunity to be involved. I also invited two chefs, Chef Mike Labiano and Chef Imee Enriquez-Tongson to give a short demo on healthy food.
2019 - In the early part of this year, I went to Cebu City every weekend to attend the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) for my myself. I also got certified as a CHIP facilitator in Cebu in August and shared my reason for wanting to help breast cancer patients like me because I recently lost a friend from the dreaded disease.
2020 - At first, I had to get sick so I can realize the true purpose of my illness. But when COVID 19 came and I lost a big bulk of my private practice because parents were afraid to bring their kids to the hospital, I had to find out what this pandemic is trying to teach me as physician. Now, I can help mothers take care of their kids in the comfort of their homes through my weekly FB live Q & A every Saturday at 4 pm in my FB page, Dra Joy, Pinoy Pedia and do teleconsultation as well as face to face for well baby/child visits and immunizations.
As a breast cancer survivor, I help cancer patients and their families to cope with the disease because I choose to act and share my story on how I have recovered from my illness.
What was your own experience?