Some of my Philippine elementary school classmates and I enjoy having annual reunions to rehash old stories from grade school days. Come on, you say, how much precious memory could be made between the ages of five and eleven? Well, not much really. That’s why they are rehashed. Actually, we just delight in each others’ company as we celebrate successes until one day it hit us! America’s high standard of living can’t save us from the tsunami of the aging process. Suddenly in the last reunion, life’s fragile nature emerged as a popular topic.
Several weeks ago, our de-facto fearless leader sent us reunionistas an email broadcast, which I am repeating here verbatim. Please note that the names in mostly lower-case letters had been changed to protect the individual’s privacy. The name in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is mine and it’s real. I’m not a very private person. If I had privacy issues, I would not be blogging. I’d be hiding behind one palm tree after another, assuming I’m running around naked in Southern Orange County, California.
Here’s the broadcast:
“Just got off the phone with Raymundo. His hip replacement surgery went very well last May 29. He was discharged on June 4th. He is very thankful for our prayers and well wishes.
However, Raymundo’s wife Pablita had a fall in their kitchen as a result of a mild stroke last Friday. She is still in Long Beach Memorial Hospital. Surely, she can benefit from our group prayers.
Similarly, let’s include in our prayers another one of us, Johnny San Juan. According to Amelia Caballero (note that she has an email address now and it’s listed in this group email), Johnny fell while doing house maintenance. He is now recuperating from a rib-hairline fracture. Let’s make sure to include Johnny in our group prayers for his fast healing.
Of course, let’s continue to pray for our MS PALENGKE, CELIA RUIZ-TOMLINSON. Her very upbeat and positive spirit is carrying her through the challenges and opportunities of her medical issue. And she has been successfully winning her battle.
And while you are praying to our God almighty, do say a prayer of thanks for me too. I’ve just had my 2nd eye cataract removal surgery last June 4th (1st one was last April 6). And remembering what Adelina San Juan told me, “everything would be clearer afterwards”, I’m truly amazed at how clear everything seems to be now. In fact I can see Alfonso’s wrinkles now that my illusion my hubby is still young has unfortunately been blown away. Ah, the hands of time seems to be moving faster. Esmeralda”
End of broadcast.
Okay! So the poor reunionistas’ human bodies are falling apart. But that’s not the point here. It’s something else. Do you notice the striking difference in the way the first six maladies are mentioned with apparent impunity? Hip replacement surgery, mild stroke, a fall accident, rib-hairline fracture, cataracts, wrinkles. The health problems are succinctly identified by their real names. How about the affliction of MS PALENGKE (that would be me!)? The phrase “medical issue” is used instead of the disease’s name “cancer” or more specifically “lung cancer.” We’ll get back to that.
“Ms Palengke” (translates to Miss Market), was my beauty queen title in those days. Actually only the other reunionistas and I know about the title. My queenhood domain covered a seedy part of town that surrounded a public market. Those days, beauty queen competitions flooded the country and some form of judging determined title awards. Not my title Ms Palengke. I self-proclaimed it after realizing that beauty queen status was unattainable for me through the normal judging process. Those were the days when good taste was not a criterion in the selection of beauty queens.
Back to the phrase “medical issue.” The explanation for the rhetoric dance around the word “cancer” is simple: the stigma of cancer obviously still persists. I guess I’ll just have to ratchet up my efforts in the crusade toward the de-stigmatization of the word cancer. And this post is a part of that effort.
It’s not easy. Before my cancer diagnosis, I was known in my circle as someone who called a spade a bloody shovel. But when it came to talking to the cancer-afflicted ones like my now deceased father-in-law and a former employee of mine, I wimped out. I could not utter the word cancer to their faces or within hearing distance. I feared hurting their feelings. Now a cancer patient myself, I understand both sides. I can only help to raise some people’s awareness that the word cancer is okay to say or write about me since I am one of those who choose to talk about it. The oncology world has practically transformed my type of cancer into a chronic disease, much like diabetes, which can be managed. Diabetics don’t get puppy-dog eyes from peeps.
Back to the next reunion where the dress motif is drum roll……denim! I think I’ll start sewing sequins on my provocative denim gown. I have a beauty queen reputation to maintain.
Related previous post: https://celpeggy.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/the-secret-at-the-reunion/