“Pangga-a Sab Ko” Stories: Cancer survivor sets her sights on becoming a doctor

Every child is unique. With their God-given strengths, talents, and passion, every child has the ability to dream and choose their own path to success. Dreams are often the collection of the things that we want to experience or enjoy in life. They propel the child to focus and envision their life beyond their current reality. Every child is born a natural dreamer.   

Jean Marian dela Cruz of Talamban, Cebu City was such a child who liked to imagine of the countless possibilities ahead of her. It was on her 10th year when her hopeful and innocent path of growth and learning was interrupted by a life-changing event. Normally in good health, she began having recurring fever, and pains in the abdomen and joints. She was observed to be pale and developed bruises on her skin. 

These surprising signs and symptoms were the beginnings of her battle with a disease. She was then brought to the hospital were several tests were conducted including complete blood count and bone marrow aspiration. Those tests revealed that Jean had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer common to children. This disease is characterized by the bone marrow inexplicably producing too many immature lymphocytes. This can be addressed only through prompt and complete chemotherapy.

Jean Marian Dela Cruz childhood photo while fighting cancer | Contributed Photo

“When I learned of my diagnosis, I was scared and had a lot of questions. What is leukemia? What will happen to me? Will I stop going to school?,” Jean said. In time, her questions were answered when interventions were made available to her at the right time.

Jean’s chemotherapy began after her diagnosis. Her attending physician ordered a three-year treatment protocol to ensure healing and allow her body to effectively eliminate the disturbing leukemic cells. It was as if the situation required Jean to mature fast. She realized the physical and psychological challenges she needed to surmount during her ordeal.

When her treatment was carried out, her parents were extremely worried. Jean stated, “Like any other parent, they were fearful and anxious for me. On top of that, they wondered how they could provide for the high cost of treatment of my chemotherapy.” Jean’s family was but of humble means. At that time, her father worked as a driver while her mother stayed at home to care for the whole family.

Jean’s parents were referred to seek help at the office of Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko Foundation Inc. – Cebu. This organization, which acts a bridge to connect people who are in need with those who are willing to help, had instituted the “Pangga-a Sab Ko” program to cater to the medical and psychosocial needs of children stricken with ALL. To them, the Foundation was an answer to all their questions and a refuge for their distressed hearts.

“Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko has been a big factor in my journey with cancer. Throughout my entire treatment period, they enabled us to purchase my chemotherapeutic drugs and vitamin supplements,” Jean said. “Not only that, Kapwa also embraced me and cared for my emotional well-being. Yes, they were my support system whom I could always rely on. It was truly a great feeling to know that they were there holding me up during that difficult time of my life,” she added.

Kapwa’s psychosocial activities were a source of beautiful memories for Jean. “I could not forget the parties organized by the Foundation because aside from receiving gifts, I also had the opportunity to meet my fellow cancer fighters and survivors. For me, it was very heartwarming to see their smiles and joy,” she expressed.

As Jean’s treatment progressed, she could not help but wish for a healthier life. She said, “While battling cancer, my thoughts were centered on the day that I would finish my treatment. Deep inside me I believed that I will beat cancer.” “I also could not shake out of my mind my wish to finish my studies and fulfill my dreams in life,” she added.

Jean successfully finished her treatment and she was given the exit pass from chemotherapy on October, 2012. The support of Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko continued until she was declared cancer-free. Because of that, she expressed her gratefulness to the benefactors and donors of the Foundation. She said, “Thank you very much for your big help. I was able to overcome cancer because of you. She then added, “The assistance that you had given me throughout my tough and painful ordeal had opened up many wonderful opportunities for me. You helped me be in a better position to pursue my dreams. If not for your kindness and benevolence, I will not be where I am today. Because of what you have done for me, thank you very much.”

It has been 10 years since she’s been cancer-free, and Jean is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology degree as a fourth year student at Holy Name University in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. “I chose this course as a stepping stone to achieve my lofty dream of going to medical school someday. My unending curiosity, desire for discovery, and aspiration to give back pushed me to follow this path. Difficulties may arise along the way but I know that it will be worth it in the end,” she said.

Jean Marian Dela Cruz childhood photo while fighting cancer. | Contributed Photo

This month of November, Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko Foundation Inc. – Cebu marks its 30th year of service. For three decades, the Foundation has been and continues to be at the forefront in developing a healthy community.

With heartfelt gratitude, KKMK-Cebu wants to thank the consistent commitment of its Board of Officers together with its family of benefactors, donors, partners, volunteers, countless anonymous individuals, members, and staff for their significant contributions in helping the Foundation spread and sustain its work. The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), Alpa Foundation Inc., JEG Development Corporation, SM City Cebu, International Pharmaceuticals Inc., Simon Enterprises Inc., RGMA Network Inc., CDN Digital, Chateau de Busay, and all others including the local government units have propelled Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko to fulfill its objectives for the community that it serves. Truly, they have exemplified unfaltering support and boundless generosity. To all of them, we say, “Daghang salamat sa inyong padayon nga pagpangga!”

Thus, as we press on with our noble work, we encourage everyone to help advance the fight against childhood cancer. More than ever, these dear children are leaning on your kindness and benevolence for them to survive and thrive. During these uncertain times, a donation of any amount will immensely benefit the patients in their quest towards being cancer-free. 

You can be a part of the community helping end childhood cancer. As home to almost 130 cancer survivors, the Foundation will not stop until no child dies from cancer.


Those who wish to extend help may contact Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko Foundation Inc. – Cebu through these cellphone numbers: 0945-712-6657 or 0932-443-7135. You can also deposit donations directly to Unionbank under account name: Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko Foundation and account number: 00-112-000066-2. Thank you very much.