Just before our core group meeting last week, I opened up to Sir Ace that I was due for surgery by the end of the month and therefore, will not make it anymore to the mission climb to Tacadang and Les-eng. Yes, friends, I am going to have my surgery. And it falls on the week of my birthday —or on my birthday itself.
I was hesitant to open this up to sir ace, in fact, because for the longest time I didn’t open this up to anyone apart from a small group of friends. Climbing for Christ, being a second family to me more than an organization I belong to, had some knowledge of my condition. I had shared with them before that last January, after I was rushed to the emergency room for my 5th UTI (asymptomatic), I was found to have a 5.6cm uterine fibroid or what is called Myoma in my uterus wall. It’s a benign tumor that usually occurs in women age 30 above. Below is a basic description of uterine fibroids.
Over 80% of women between 30 and 50 years of age have uterine fibroids. Depending on their size and location, fibroids can be completely asymptomatic or can cause pelvic pain, dyspareunia, pressure, urinary problems, and recurrent menorrhagia. In general, the larger the fibroid, the more severe the symptoms. Abnormal bleeding is usually caused by fibroids adjacent to the uterine cavity. Patients who have smaller serosal fibroids may be completely asymptomatic or report only one symptom. Less than 1% of fibroids are malignant, and, unless they affect the patient’s quality of life, there’s no need for treatment.
Younger women can have it, but it’s not common. And usually people who are pregnant have this removed or people who have had children. They call the procedure hysterectomy or the removal of the uterus. But I am a single girl and still very much fighting to save that uterus for a chance at getting pregnant someday and bear a child. The thought of not being able to bear a child never really scared me until that moment when I got out of Makati Med and stared blankly at the piece of paper telling me I suffer from a condition that has already victimized many in my family —my mom and two aunts who all underwent radical hysterectomy. But where it was okay for them given their age, and the fact that they already have children, it wasn’t for me.
As I shared with Sir the result of my recent check up with my OB-gyne doctor in St. Luke’s, I felt like I was ‘birthing’ a secret I’ve kept from people, and I felt relieved. Maybe because it dawned on me that there was no harm in sharing something like this, to someone I consider a father figure. But mainly, it felt “right” to open up my concerns and fears to people who can pray for me and bring it before the Lord. Sometimes, we do our Christian brothers and sisters a disservice by not letting them pray for us. Because all that communicates is that we feel we’re okay and we don’t need help from anyone.
That night, at the core meeting, Sir ace lauded my bravery for sharing to the group and acknowledged where my hesitations were coming from. I’m very independent. No, “fiercely independent”, as my colleagues would say. As far as I can remember, I’ve been handling life on my own without parental supervision. My mom, a single parent, trained us early on to be self-supporting, multi-tasking and responsible. My parents got annulled when we were only in Grade 7. So it was a challenging family setup and we all had to toughen up and mature faster than most people. Eventually, we had to learn how to survive on our own as my mom had to leave for the US. Even when I was at La Salle, I did part time jobs at my uncle’s law firm. I learned how to budget (really, really budget) my money for the whole month. This made me very independent, able to provide for myself without much help from outside my family.
When Sir Ace opened the idea of a Climb for KZ fundraising, I was again hesitant. Part of it was due to the fact that I didn’t want this broadcasted to the whole world. I didn’t want something as personal as my reproductive system discussed publicly. I didn’t want to have to explain to people (and men, especially) what this condition is about. A recent conversation below with a fellow core member, Gutch, was very telling.
I also didn’t want to have to ask help from friends because I secretly thought it’s better if they took the initiative. Even my own family was kept in the dark about this until I shared with my aunt, who in turn, shared with my dad. I feared the reaction of my dad because he’s known to really, really exaggerate and make things seem so much worse. I didn’t want to tell him at first until I have some solution in mind, like I’m really sold to the idea of surgery, I’ve already discussed extensively with my doctor and my mom, and I’m able to provide for at least half the amount. If i had kept this from my own dad, why would even share this with the rest of the world? See, being so independent, I’ve never been used to rely on people so much. i’ve always had to work at things myself.
But now, as links are being shared and re-shared on friends’ wall posts, as people are one by one sending me messages of encouragement and emails of prayers, I am humbled. Humbled by the fact that I do need people to help me and I can’t get through this by myself. There’s just no use being proud anymore and telling yourself you can do this all on your own, because the truth is, you can’t. Even when I consider the amount I need to come up with for this surgery, I feel like whacking myself on the head for thinking that I can come up with that amount all on my own. It’s useless pride. It’s fake strength.
And when I opened this up to the Lord, He gave me exactly the message I needed to believe in: I had to step out in faith and ask boldly. Ask and ye shall receive. You don’t receive because you don’t ask. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door will be opened for you.
It was a matter of asking. Asking in faith, and asking in specifics. It was a matter of telling people what I need, what my concerns are, and how they can help. Because the truth is, while I can ask people to pray for me, prayer is only half the battle. There’s the doing part of praying, the part that says, “okay, so people pray for you and then what?”
God is peeling off layers and layers of pride —that feeling that I’m okay. Ultimately, it was me telling God, “no Lord, I can take it from here.” It’s preposterous, ridiculous. There shouldn’t be any shame in telling people what I’m going through. In the end, it won’t be about you, anyway. It will be about God and how He worked wonderfully in my life because I humbled myself and I let Him take over. Secret’s out!