Last month a very interesting boy was brought to the PSHF ofﬁce for medical assistance support. Five year old RJ looked like any normal child but his charms, playfulness and amiability stood out. It seemed as if he didn't have any illness at all. When this parents brought him to us, he would not sit in one corner; instead he crawled under the table and chairs in the ofﬁce and chatted with the staff and asked questions. He even asked for writing paper and showed his writing and drawing skills, impressive for his age. There was never a dull moment when he was around.
RJ is the second child of Ronald (35) and Rowena (32), and is in kindergarten at Abkasa Elementary School Preschool. Though he often misses classes to be treated in the hospital, his performance is good and he gets high grades. Recently, his teachers were very proud of him because he got perfect scores in his exams.
In November 2011, RJ was taken to the hospital with severe stomach pain, nausea and paleness. Laboratory results showed he had a urinary tract infection and low hemoglobin. He was given a blood transfusion and his nose bled; the doctor said it was a sign of anemia but to be sure, RJ had to have a bone marrow test. This uncovered a life-threatening problem, acute lymphocytic leukemia for which he would need three years of chemotherapy.
Rowena clearly recalls the day in 2012 when she and Ronald were with RJ in a public hospital and he lost consciousness. The nurses just told them that there was no doctor around, but when RJ stopped breathing and turned pale and cold, she carried him to the nursing station and the staff there gave him immediate attention. Ronald inserted two ﬁngers into RJ's mouth and to his surprise his son bit the ﬁngers and began to breathe again, but was struggling because he was crying. Thankfully, the patient beside them was using oxygen and allowed RJ to use it thus enabling RJ to resume normal breathing. The laboratory results showed that his platelet count was very low; RJ had to stay in the hospital for two weeks to recover.
To pay for RJ's hospital stays and chemotherapy sessions, Rowena and Ronald have used up all their savings and sold Rowena's father’s jeepney. The family income is not large; Ronald is a construction worker and Rowena has no income at all as she closed her small eatery to take care of RJ. They have received some ﬁnancial assistance from relatives and also from politicians prior to the recent election but this stopped when the election brought a new group into power.
RJ still needs more than a year of chemotherapy. We are glad to help with a grant of 36,000 pesos to cover a year of RJ's treatment. Rowena and Ronald are deeply grateful for this support and we join them in praying for RJ to make a full recovery.
Lanie M. De Leon
RJ with his mother, Rowena take a pose before leaving the PSHF office.