Years before she was diagnosed with breast cancer last October, my Mama, Pomona Pilar “Monette” G. dela Fuente used to run. A lot.
Before she married my Papa, before she quit her job to be a full-time mother, Mama would share how she used to join several fun runs, long before their levels of popularity and all the hype they are receiving these days Now, fun runs usually take place around Bonifacio Global City or SM Mall of Asia; in the 1990s, they would usually be held in Roxas Boulevard. But in the 1980s, EDSA was still the route of choice, and one particular run took her and her friends from the now-defunct Fiesta Carnival (now Shopwise Cubao) in Araneta Center to Rustan’s, in what is now Ayala Center. It was a long and tough run— ascending the hilly EDSA-Guadalupe area proved to be a struggle, she muses— but she completed it.
Over nine months ago, Mama began what was arguably the most difficult race of her life to date— beating breast cancer. And in a way, as a family, it has also been our most difficult challenge as well. We’ve never been extremely wealthy, so her treatments eventually took a toll on our finances. But thanks to the government assistance programs and the generosity of family and friends, we have managed to pull through in the past nine months, and are still pulling through.
I first described the commencement of Mama’s cancer treatment as a “journey,” but in hindsight, it’s more than that, for this has really been a marathon that toughens you to the very end. No fancy high-speed sprints here— this is one grueling test of endurance where you have to keep going no matter what. And I’ve been drawing strength from the incredible way my Mama has been waging this battle since.
Mama has always been a fighter, but I’ve never seen her display such tremendous strength for herself and for us as a family like in the past nine months. Through all the endless medications, injections, and the all-too familiar chemotherapy and radiation side effects, she has remained steadfast like a true runner, dead-set on completing the most difficult marathon of her life. I don’t know how she does it, but she has never changed despite all her afflictions— she is still the loving, selfless, kind-hearted Mama whom we know and dearly love. It just goes to show how amazing she is that way.
So far, it has already been nine months since Mama commenced her cancer treatment, and I can say she has run a good race in the face of cripplingly tough circumstances. It’s now halfway through 2016, which means if all goes well, we would already be about halfway through her treatment which is slated to end early next year.
Professional runners speak of experiencing a “second wind,” or a phenomenon where a breathless, exhausted athlete “finds the strength to press on at top performance with less exertion.” It’s a wonderful moment often encountered at the brink of a wonderful victory.
These days, I take comfort in the fact that no matter what it takes, I know my Mama will triumphantly cross that finish line, with a powerful second wind fueling her toward the homestretch of her treatment. You’re probably wondering how I know. Well, this I know— it takes an extraordinary courage to face cancer this way. And honestly, I don’t expect anything less from an extraordinary superwoman— my dear Mama.
Cancer is a tough battle but it could be defeated with generous support. Learn about how you can be of help to Mama Monette and the de la Fuente family here.