#IAmASurvivor are stories from women of all walks of life, telling their stories of survival. Everybody is a survivor and all stories deserve to be told. These stories are all in their own words.
Hi Everyone, I’m Amanda Nav, I came from the Philippines. Before I tell you my story, I would like to say, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity and chance to share my story with you today. It’s been for a quite some time that I wanted to share my stories to the whole world, because I know my story will impact many lives, but I don’t have someone to turn to. Until one day, a friend recommended I see a Mentor who is great in everything. This Mentor was the one who discovered my skills and he said, I had potential and I have a story to share to the world and that’s why I am here today. I am very grateful and thankful to this Mentor.
I grew up in rural part of the Philippines -in the hillside together with my brothers and parents. A place that is very quiet; neighbours are far from each other with no electricity and very far from the city. At the age of nine years old, I started to experience many ups and downs in life - pains, struggles, and difficulties. My family and I were working under the hot sun together, just to earn a living and to survive.
One night, before we went to bed. My Mom told us a story about her sufferings when she was 24 years old. She was diagnosed with a tumour in her head- stage 2 cancer. She was admitted to a public hospital for more than three months . My Mom underwent chemotherapy. They cut her hair; her neck was all black due to cobalt effect. My Mom suffered lots of difficulties and both of my parents struggled with finances during that stage of her life. During the 3 months in hospital, the people who took good care of my Mom in the hospital never stopped offering a healing prayer every single day.
Then one day, the Doctor decided to operate on the tumour in my Mom’s head since chemotherapy didn’t work. My Mom’s eyesight also got affected, she now can’t see clearly. So, both of my parents agreed for the surgery since nothing happened after three months of chemotherapy. So my Mom prepared herself for surgery.
The day that the Doctor scheduled for my Mom’s surgery, him and his assistant staffs surrounded my Mom’s bed. Everything already set up. Then suddenly, my Mom begged the Doctor to redo the scan since she felt good, great and amazing that day. The Doctor smiled and he told to my Mom, today is the day of your head surgery, and again, my Mom begged the Doctor. The Doctor agreed and he said to my Mom “ok let me rescan again. After the result was out, the x-ray was clear.
The tumours had disappeared. Everyone was surprised and of course, everyone was happy. So, that day big miracles happened to my mom and she was very grateful to all the people in the hospital who support her and to those people who prayed nonstop for my Mom’s healing. It’s an amazing story.
So much more story to tell but the rest is history. After a few months, my Mom got pregnant and I was born.
So on my side, when I was 18 years old, I was diagnosed with malignant cancer. But before that, I was working before as a helper in one of the richest families in our town. I had just freshly graduated from Secondary School that time and I applied as a helper. One day when I got up in the morning, I felt something very unusual happen to my body. I feel a bit pain in my neck that morning and once I touched it, there was a big lump that had grown into my left neck. It was hard and big. I wasn’t satisfied so I went in front of the mirror and there I saw this big lump. It’s very noticeable. I was nervous that time. I waited for the employer to get up to tell her about the lump. Sadly, this employer that they didn’t care much about me. So she let me pack my things and I went back home. I told to my Mom about my story.
The next day, we went to the hospital to check what it was- whether the lump can affect my health. So, the Doc gave me a referral to go to Manila City where they could rescan and do the biopsy because it might be a cancer. The Doctor didn’t tell me exactly that was it is malignant cancer. Me and my Mom went back home, laughing together while we were walking instead of dwelling over it. We were laughing because we didn’t know where to get cash.
The lump filled with pus. After a few weeks I went to Manila by myself. It took me 7 hours to travel by bus. I met the Doctor and he used a syringe to take out the pus from the lump for the biopsy. The Doctor said to come back after two days. So, I went back, and I was so nervous to find out what was it. I was dismayed when the Doctor told me, the syringe was missing so he did another biopsy. I saw the two syringes he filled with pus. I was curious and asked the Doctor, ‘why so much pus inside the lump, is it dangerous? Am I going to get over it?’ The Doc replied, ‘I will let you know once I find out the results. As of now relax and don’t panic.’ The Doc didn’t even consider that I was far away from the city and that was another challenge for me.
After that, the Doctor ask me to come back after 2 days. I left the clinic with a sudden sadness, worry and nervousness. My skin was dry, and I looked very unhealthy. I stayed with our relatives 3 hours away from the clinic. To pay for my rent, I had to wake up early, wash their clothes and do all the household chores. I am thankful to this family because I saved some money.
I went back to the clinic and I asked the Doctor quickly what the result was. The Doctor said, it’s malignant cancer and it needs surgery as soon as possible so the virus won’t spread to some part of your body. He also added you should have someone accompany you in this case. I begged the Doctor and told him we are poor we can’t afford for the surgery. He then prescribed one month’s medication and to come back for another check-up. He said it was important so see him. I left the clinic with sudden sadness and with teary eyes. I went back to our place. While I was inside the bus, I was thinking where we could get money to buy medicine. When I got home, I told my Mom the full story. My Mom was worried about me. I sat in a corner almost every day, cried and disappointed in life , while my Mom was busy finding people who could help us to buy my medicines . She went to our municipality where we could ask for help. Some gave her cash and bought my medicines.
Few people talk about my sickness; I was embarrassed to face people.
Some visited me and tried to comfort me. One day, while I was listening to a radio program, suddenly everything changed. The broadcaster’s topic was all about “how to cure cancer naturally without surgery”. The broadcaster shared tips about the benefits of potatoes and carrots for cancer patients. Eat boiled potato and carrots for at least six months and you will be amazed of the results. So, I followed what she said. I took some medication, but I didn’t complete what the Doctor prescribed me since we didn’t have enough money to buy it. I also ate sweet potatoes.
So when the doctor asked me to come back for the next appointment, I didn’t go because, again, we didn’t have money. I continued to consume carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes. One of our relatives took me to spiritual healing. They used coconut sticks to burn my neck. It was painful but they said you must believe or else you won’t be healed. I went back home with lots of burns in my neck. Everyone was staring at me and asked what had happened. I kept quiet and didn’t respond their questions. Since then, I didn’t focus much on my illness. After one year while I was walking, I spat with blood; thick and red. At first I ignored it, I thought my gums was bleeding. After few minutes I spat, again followed by a cough. I was nervous and I quickly ask my Mom to check on the blood. My Mom was worried.
The next day, I went to our community centre for free check ups. That day I found out I suffered from tuberculosis. I had to face another challenge.
I got this sickness due to the strong smoked produced by charcoal. My Dad dug a wide and deep hole in front of our house and there he made charcoals to earn a living. I told to my Dad many times not to make charcoals close to our house since all the smoke would be inhaled by every member of our family especially during the night. We couldn’t sleep due to the thick smoke. But my Dad didn’t listen. After 15 years of making charcoal, my Dad died from lung cancer and complicated illnesses.
I want you to understand, that even though my Mom suffered from cancer before, it doesn’t mean I got my sickness from her. I really believe that I got my sickness due to the environment I was in. I remember, my Dad used strong chemicals and pesticides to spray our own vegetables, fruits and rice planting. Like for example, during the night he sprayed our vegetables and the next morning, we had to harvest the vegetables and soak them in the water at least 30 minutes before we cook. So do you think the pesticides really washed away? I really believe that sometimes we fall sick because of the environment we surround ourselves in and the food that we are having every single day. So maybe I got my sickness from the foods I had every day. So, I thought we stayed in a hillside and I thought that all we were eating was all fresh, I didn’t realise that what we were having everyday had strong pesticides and chemicals, and I wasn’t aware since I was still young that time. That was the reason why I fell sick because of the environment I was surrounded in and our food intake.
So, I already experienced a lot of illnesses, sufferings and pains during my young age. But after malignant cancer and tuberculosis I overcame everything. After six years I was diagnosed with sinusitis because when I was working in Saudi Arabia. I was allergic to dust. I suffered terrible headaches, at least three years. I couldn’t breathe well due to the cysts that grew inside my nose. The moment I came down from the plane, I went to the hospital to book an appointment where they could operate on me without spending much money. I remember, exactly 4 am when I was queuing to the hospital to get a slot. So many people queuing! If I wasn’t mistaken, I was number 119. When I met the Doctor, he said there were big cysts growing close to my nostril. Then after 3 days I underwent surgery.