From Plasma to Faith

GOOGLE the meaning of plasma and you’ll find out it is a white blood cell in the body that makes antibodies – proteins that protect you when substances you are not supposed to have enter your body.

Part of our immune system, the antibodies bind the bad substances and eliminate them from our system.

Yes, plasma cells protect us from some infections that can cause all sorts of pains and illnesses we don’t want to have.

So, we like plasma cells, right? But sometimes the plasma cells multiply more than what we need, crowding out the normal cells in our bones. The abnormal plasma cells build in the bone marrow and form tumors in many bones of the body. We know tumor – abnormal swelling of a part of the body– in one word, cancer.

Doctors call those abnormal plasma cells myeloma – a blood cancer. Usually, there are no symptoms. Doctors find out about it only when they are treating other illnesses in your body. So, when it’s diagnosed, you already have multiple bone lesions. So, they call the cancer Multiple Myeloma.

That’s the name of my cancer.

Blessings and Burdens

Doctors don’t know why people get the cancer. I don’t know either why I have Multiple Myeloma.

But yes, I’ve gone through life’s blessings and burdens.

Blessings include: Born on April 13, 1964, to Catholic parents Ceferino and Florencia Leona. I am living in Cainta, Rizal. I went to school – St. Joseph Elementary School of Cainta, graduated in 1976; Francisco P. Felix Memorial National High School, 1981; Siena College of Taytay,1985, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Secretarial Education.

I went on to pursue further studies at the Mother of Life Catechetical Center, a school for professional catechists. I graduated in 1987.

Best blessing was in 1996. I got married to Domingo Lacsa, who was a Lupon Tagapamayapa (peacekeeper) in our Barangay. My hardworking husband also worked as a carpenter, cook, and mechanic.

He also served as a lay minister in our parish.

But major burden: Domingo suffered a heart problem and had a quadruple bypass in 2017. He passed on due to COVID in December 2020. He was only 57 years old.

Domingo though left me with two blessings, our children: Marian (left), now an accountant; and Gian Lorenzo (extreme left), a Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate.

But Gian has chosen not to get employed and instead be my full-time caregiver. Amid the demands of taking care of me, Gian continues to serve as an altar server. Marian likewise serves by providing technical support, operating the projector, and handling the PowerPoint presentation during Mass.

For the Lord

I work as head catechist at Mother of Life Catechetical Center Novaliches, run by the Diocese of Antipolo Catechetical Commission for the past 40 years.

With teaching catechism being my first love, I joined Our Lady of Light Parish

in Cainta as a volunteer catechist in 1981.

Here I am with our leaders, from left: Fr. Cristopher P. Gonzales, Diocesan Catechetical Assistant Director; Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Diocese of Antipolo; Fr. Luisito Atanacio, Diocesan Catechetical Director.

Below, with fellow catechists.

Major burden is Multiple Myeloma.

But God’s blessing is much bigger: Jesus Christ Cares for Cancer.

I have always believed God has a special way of connecting people.

I serve as catechist of St. John Mary Vianney Parish, Diocese of Antipolo, in charge of formation programs for catechists of the parishes under the diocese.

In 2006, I conducted a yearlong formation program for catechists from different parishes. And one of the participants happened to be Banjoy Santillan, representing her parish.

Banjoy is a longtime devoted member of the Light of Jesus Family, serving in the LOJ Pastoral Care Ministry. And so, of course, she knew about JCCFC.

When she found out about my ailment, Banjoy promptly referred me to Jesus Cares which yes, started caring for me in August 2023.

Here we are, happy together: Banjoy and me, and Jesus on the Cross above us.

Priceless Gift

JCCFC has well blessed me with the resources I need to cope with the prohibitive medical costs of this ailment.

And priceless is the spiritual gift. Led by chairman Bro. Alo Gelano (left, with Sis.

Maritess Cordero, Board secretary), JCCFC holds a general assembly of beneficiaries monthly at Robinsons Galleria, Quezon City, which includes faith-deepening talks.

As my caregiver, my son Gian attends the JCCFC Assembly. He has been blessed with this spiritual nourishment he shares with me. I see in him a more

caring, loving son.

Above left, Gian with Betty Correos, JCCFC coordinator for me.

Above right, Gian at the JCCFC monthly assembly with JCCFC coordinators, from left: Betty Correos, Jolly Arquero, and Vilma Senador.

Through the JCCFC, Gian and I have become positive bearers of God’s mercy and love. We are amazed to find ourselves walking with God’s grace and strength.

I so need this assurance: that Jesus is with me, that with

His healing power and miracles, He is in control of my situation.

Yes, I am calm and full of hope as at JCCFC, I’ve learned God’s Word in Psalms 46:10 which gives me peace:

Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation throughout the world.

All honor and glory to God!

This story was first published in the Feast Family Online News Magazine.

Published by THE FEAST MERCY MINSTRY (March 24, 2024)