A Former OFW’s Touching Story As He Struggles With And Survives Cancer

Why do we need to work so hard in our job? Why do we need to work in other countries? To save money for the future? To give financial assistance to our family? Or because of the higher salary that our own country can’t give.

Many OFWs want to work abroad because of one reason, family.  To give them a better life and provide everything they need. OFWs will do everything to the point that they will push their selves to the limit. They will work so hard for the best that they can.

I am a former OFW in Qatar for two years. I worked in a luxury hotel name Sharq Village and Spa in the year 2013. I was assigned to a fine dining restaurant as a server.

Every day was so busy, and sometimes we even worked 12 hours a day. After several months, I was promoted as a bartender that serve non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages.

After a few months, they assigned me to be their learning coach for our department. I gave out lessons and pieces of training to improve our services for our guest.

The Happy Times

My life in Qatar was wonderful, that we party almost every night, drinking smoking and eating unhealthy foods. I abused my body when I was there. I did not pay attention to my health.

In my eighteen months in Qatar, I was granted to take a vacation in the Philippines last November 2014. Then, while having my vacation in my home country, I tried to apply in a cruise ship agency in Intramuros. After three days, I passed all the interviews and exams. I ask them if I can go back to Qatar just to finish my contract and they allowed me.

2015 of March, I came back to the Philippines to pursue my dreams to work on a cruise line. We started our training in April. Everything went well. I passed the training that took two weeks in Antipolo.

After the training, we need to complete all the requirements and pass the medical exam. In my medical exam, there is only one problem, my platelet count. It was not a normal count.

Then my mother and I went to a hematologist who’s an expert in all types of blood diseases. For almost a month of checking, my platelet didn’t go normal. So we decided to have a bone marrow biopsy. A procedure that the doctor will extract stem cells inside of my sponge part bone in my hips.

Video credit by Mike Johnson

The diagnosis

After one week of waiting, I was diagnosed with Leukemia, a type of cancer that grows inside our bone marrow. My doctor told me that it’s an aggressive type of cancer and I need treatment as soon as possible. If I untreated, I will only live for six months and a maximum of one year.

I cried and got scared to the point that I questioned God. I only want a better life for my family. Things changed, I lost everything I had, my savings, my career, my friends and even other relatives. I almost lost hope.

The road to recovery

August 2015, I started my First session of chemotherapy. It was so terrifying moment that I almost want to give up and just die. But because of God’s grace and support of my family, I overcame all the pains.

I stayed in the hospital for almost eight months. All the struggles and pains, I experienced there. We celebrated my mother’s birthday, Christmas and new year in the hospital.

Being outside again

2016 of April, at last, I was discharged. I stayed in a condo near the hospital for emergency purposes. After that, everything was fine, I’m slowly recovering, but I am still prone to infection.

Today, I am three and a half years being cancer-free. A survivor. 

A plea from a survivor

I know that we OFWs work so hard to provide everything for our family. But always consider yourself first. Make yourself a priority. Because once you abuse your body and get sick. All the things you want for your future will quickly disappear. If you truly love your family, then start first to love yourself as well. Once a family member is diagnosed with cancer, it’s like the whole family has cancer also.

Spare yourself and your family from this heartache. Make your health your priority.

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