by Christine Lagdameo
This is one of the little known cancer survivor stories - a tale of resolve and faith by a strong woman who overcame the odds and survived cancer.
Beatriz “Beth” Collado, 55 years old, is a former teacher at Las Piñas College, American International School and La Consolacion College in the Philippines. She is married to a businessman, Alfredo “Freddie” Collado. At present, Beth is a housewife, taking care of her five sons – three are working while two are still studying.
Beth grew up a Protestant Methodist until six months before her marriage. Her family stayed in Vietnam for a while where they continued to practice the Catholic Faith by going to church regularly. They also went to Saudi Arabia where her husband worked for Prince Faisak. Since practicing the Catholic Faith is prohibited in this country, they had to hear mass secretly. Fortunately, they were able to have their three kids baptized in Saudi Arabia.
Their life in Saudi was full of material blessings, thanks to Prince Faisak. However, Beth felt something was still lacking as a plain housewife in this country. With this, she and her kids went home to the Philippines, leaving Freddie behind to continue his work.
When Beth went back to the Philippines, she found that a lot of her friends had already joined the Born Again Movement. She was even invited back to her Methodist church but she refused. Being a regular churchgoer, Beth was invited to join a lot of organizations like the Legion of Mary, Lectors & Commentators Society, Apostleship of Prayer, Curia and Catholic Women’s League. She is also a member of Quota International of Manila, a non-sectarian service and fellowship organization for women helping disadvantage, speech- or hearing-impaired women and children. Being an active member of these organizations, Beth was elected officer, if not the Head, a lot of times. Through service in these organizations, she became closer to God and Mama Mary.
Beth considers herself a “superwoman” because she loves to serve her family and other people. She believes that because of the love she received while growing up with her grandfather, she now should extend this love to other people by serving them.
Beth thought she already had a perfect life… until one Sunday in October of 2004 when she went home after mass to rest. She was trying to sleep when suddenly she felt like she was relieving herself in bed. She thought that because she was growing in age, she had lost control of her bladder already. Instead of what she was expecting to find, Beth was surprised to see that she was continuously bleeding.
This shocked her because Beth had already menopaused four years ago. She immediately went to the nearest bathroom to clean herself and called her son Fareed (then a medical student at the University of the Philippines). After this, she went back to bed and did not feel bothered anymore, especially since she felt no pain. Fareed checked her blood pressure and found it to be normal. He wanted to bring his mother to the hospital but she refused. She only agreed when Fareed said that if she continues to bleed, it would be difficult to look for donors with her blood type.
Beth was eventually confined at a hospital, where, later on, she was given general anesthesia in preparation for her Dilation and Curretage (D-&-C). But when the doctor opened her ovary, he was surprised to see a big lump. The D-&-C procedure became a biopsy instead. When she woke up the next morning, she had no idea what had happened and was surprised when Freddie told her that they were already going home.
She went home without being informed of her condition. During this time, the only people who knew about her illness were her husband, siblings, brother-in-law and daughter-in-law. When she was later asked about the possibility of her having cancer, Beth said that it would be okay because that is what the Lord wants; she had no worries.
One day, Beth was surprised when her friends visited and brought a lot of food. Her relatives were also there. It was during this gathering that it was announced that she had cervical cancer stage 3B.
For Beth, it was a blessing that Fareed belonged to the oncology (cancer) section and that his professors were all oncologists (cancer specialists). One of the doctors was supposed to tell her about her condition but she immediately asked how much time she had left. The doctor did not come up with an exact answer and instead said that she would have to undergo a lot of treatments such as chemotherapy and brachiotherapy, which would cost millions. While she knew that they had some savings, her first thought was for her children. Then she just prayed and said, “Lord, I surrender everything to you.”
One miracle that happened during Beth’s battle with cancer was that the oncologist-colleagues of Fareed gave her all their services, medications, and even chemotherapy sessions for free. For her brachiotherapy, she was able to get significant financial assistance courtesy of her other son Rex who works at Allied Bank. Another miracle was that she did not suffer hair loss due to chemotherapy and that her skin did not turn dark from the brachiotherapy.
Shortly before undergoing chemotherapy, Beth served as commentator in a mass. The message in the Introduction to the mass struck her, so much so that she asked people to pray for her because she had cancer and will already undergo chemotherapy. After the mass, a lot of people approached her to offer comfort and support.
After this, Beth had to stop serving because of the therapies she had to undergo. But though she was not able to attend mass regularly and offer her usual service in the church during this time, she continued to be prayerful and helpful to others, especially to her fellow cancer-patients.
In February 2005, after her fourth chemotherapy session, the doctor checked up on her and was surprised to see that the cancer had gone. The doctor officially declared her cancer-free and ready to go back to work.
Beth believes that her victory over cancer was due to prayers and service to other people. Today, she has resumed her active involvement in the church, inspiring others through her stories of faith and life.
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