“Toto, Nanay is sick. She was discharged from the hospital a few days ago but doctors did not see anything. I can tell something is wrong with her.” Inday, my sister, said worriedly.
A few days later, I was outside of Francis Bangoy International Airport Arrival area waiting for Nanay. Small beads of sweat were dripping off my forehead as I tried to cool myself down under a marquess. It was nearly noon when the plane arrived and the scorching heat of the tropical sun added to the apprehension that was boiling inside me as I waited for her to come out of the arrival area. During that phone call, I asked Inday the other symptoms that Nanay was having. Although, I was not working in the hospital at that time, I could still associate signs and symptoms to diseases. Everything that she said, pointed to the big C.
From where I was standing, I could see people starting to emerge out of the arrival gate. There was no escalator yet so people had to take the stairs. Most passengers were rushing down as they were too excited to see their family or love ones who were waiting outside. Then, I saw a familiar frame walking slowly and looking terrified to go down the stairs. She was pale and weak. It was Nanay, keeping her balance by holding on to the wall with her one hand. At that instance, I knew it! All my doubts and wishful thinking vanished. She got it. My heart sunk and I rushed towards her.
She smiled, albeit a forceful one, when she saw me. I had to ask the airport personnel to let me in so that I could assist her. I hugged her tightly, hoping to take away whatever it was making her sick.
” I can do it. Just let me walk slowly,” she reassured me.
I told her to wait for me just outside the exit door as I ran towards my car in the parking lot and drove swiftly back to where she was standing. I had taken that day off and made an appointment to see a specialist the next morning. Thus, I decided to take her to the mall to eat before going to my boss’ place who kindly agreed to let us stay the night. I was sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with my 2 other colleagues. They occupied each room and every night, I would sleep on the mattress spread on the floor in the living room. As I was travelling for work most of the time, I didn’t feel the need to have a room of my own.
The night went quickly although I wasn’t sure if Nanay had slept well. I noticed that quiet persistent cough from the time I hugged her in the airport. Before I dozed off, I could still hear her heaving quietly. In the morning, my boss’ helper made us a sumptuous breakfast but Nanay ate very little. She lost a lot of weight from the last time I saw her. Trying not to disappoint my gracious hosts, I stuffed myself with the delicious meal on the table.
After bidding goodbyes and saying our thank yous, we headed towards the city. It was a bit early and so we decided to go to the mall again to pass the time. Nothing prepared me to what was about to happen. I should have known better! She had not been eating well and walking had become an arduous undertaking. But, she never complained. She was just too happy to spend time with me.
Holding me tightly, she murmured, “Toto, I am feeling dizzy.”
I turned and looked at her. Her face was paler and within seconds, she collapsed in my arms. There was a rapid surge of adrenaline in my body and was able to carry her towards my car in the parking lot. I was only 70 kgs and Nanay was about the same or even slightly heavier. However, I felt like I was the strongest man as I sprinted towards the car park. I felt hands and heard people talking to me but I was not paying attention to them.
My eyes were fixed to where my car was and all I was thinking was, “I am taking you to the hospital!”
I drove the fastest at that time. With emergency lights on and honking furiously, we arrived at the hospital within a few minutes. Nanay was taken to the emergency room where she regained consciousness. Her consultant was informed and she arrived not long after. She did an emergency endoscopy and a diagnosis was confirmed. She couldn’t believe why the previous doctor missed the cancer cells growing in her stomach. Part of me was relieved to know what we were dealing and the other part of me was angry towards the other doctor for not finding out. If we had known early, Nanay could have started treatment early which could have saved her life.
From that day, we stayed in the hospital and waited for the next best thing to do.