September 21, 2004

beer for benefit

last night we drank for a cause at dusit hotel, makati. "Project Sheel Happy Hour" was launched to raise funds to help our friend, Wata, in financing her daughter's battle against the big C. here is Sheel's story:

"One night my throat was swollen and my mommy thought that I got bit by a bug. My throat didn't hurt though. So she gave me medicine you take when you get bug bites and it didn't work. Later that night I had a hard time breathing so we went to the hospital and they told me the cancer was wrapped around my breathing tube and that's why I had the bump and couldnĂ‚’t breathe. Now I have to go through three years of chemo." --- (Jalen, 9, FL)

"When I was 10 I broke out in what looked like a rash and when I went to the doctor they knew it was no ordinary rash and ordered blood tests. The next day I went to a new doctor for more tests which showed my blood counts were not normal but it was not easy for them to diagnose me. It took about five months and many more tests to get a final diagnosis of a form of leukemia that is rare in children but common in senior citizen men." --- (Tiffany, 11, MI)

Until mid of last year, Sheel was your typical 7th grader, who memorizes boy band hit songs by heart and keeps life-sized posters of her favorite band. She has been living a typical teener's life, cheerful and carefree, until one July morning.

Just like Jalen and Tiffany, Sheel's condition started with something that seemed simple and unalarming. In July 2003, she noticed her left eye was puffy and a bit protruded. She was taken to a series of specialist, from opthalmologist to internist and finally to her doctor in the past year, a pedia oncologist. Her doctor never mentioned the word Cancer but Sheel knew what chemotherapy is all about. She cried about the possibility of having to miss school and the idea of losing hair.

It's been a year since. Sheel had undergone all the requisite treatment. She did not miss school as she was earlier anxious of, but skipped classes during days when she was required to undergo her chemotherapy. These were the days when she would be totally drained due to bouts of throwing up, one of the side effects of her treatment. While Sheel was able to hold on to her studies, her hair is a different matter altogether though. She inevitably lost strands of it, but learned to manage her bad hair days with the help of her bandannas.

Sheel has been living with the Big C that causes the bad hair days for a year now. The tumor was found to be Rhabdomyosarcoma of the Orbit -- a rare type of cancer found among children. For awhile, Sheel thought she was free of the nemesis when her oncologist declared that she's officially on remission. But it was not meant to be. Yet. A few weeks after the remission, Sheel's eye started to protrude again. And this time, it's bigger than the earlier bout. Apparently, she had developed resistance to her earlier chemo drugs. After another round of consultations, and tests, the doctorsĂ‚’ mandate is for Sheel to undergo another series of 5-day chemotherapy every three weeks, using another chemo drug stronger than the one used on her last year. When Sheel first heard of this, she told her mom that she is too tired and spent up to go through all these all over again. Well, who wouldn't be? Instead of spending time with her barkada, or indulging in activities typically enjoyed by kids her age, she would be trapped inside four white walls for days in a row again. But knowing chemo is her only choice, Sheel eventually geared up for this re-match. She is on her first session now at the NKI. Hopefully, she responds to the chemo well and the therapy will be over in 6 months.

Sheel's first year of battle was difficult. But with the help and prayers of relatives and friends, she has come this far. This round of chemotherapy is expected to be more rigorous and more draining, physically and financially. But with your help and prayers, Sheel and her mom are hopeful that Sheel will win the battle against the Big C this time around.

Cancer can be beaten...

but not alone.

So let's be with Sheel

as she goes through this battle
Sheel Blanco Lamar's Fund

BPI Family Bank

Matalino Branch Quezon City, Philippines

Joint Account holders:

Joy Casuga and/or Melinda Marcelo

Peso Savings Account Number: 4255 0569 19
Sheel's total medical expenses for each 3-week course is approximately Php97,500. there will be more upcoming fundraising events, and i hope many more can join.
l-r: joan, me, angel, joy, jojo, and alex

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