Through the years many have lost their battles with cancer. And recently many people share their experiences with the big C online.
Similar to this college student Ann Jasmine Aspiras who got diagnosed with cancer but still managed to graduate despite all the challenges.
Her story quickly became viral after she shared it on Facebook. While she was going through problems in school she was also fighting for her life and taking chemotherapy.
A lot have judged her starting from the University she wants to go to up to the course she wanted to choose. Her problems just kept on piling up.
But she found a way through it, and graduated without letting the chemotherapies get in her way. She didn’t allow her professors to know about her condition mainly because she didn’t want to pass just because of pity.
But she had to wear medical masks regularly because of her condition, and people did start to notice. And she did not expect that sharing about her condition would help ease her way up college.
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“In a world filled with negativity, let’s fill it with positivity through celebration of victories made by people in the midst of their own battles, whatever it may seem to be.
And I begin it by sharing my story.
If I were to describe my college journey, I’d be brutally honest to say it was a disappointment. Actually, it was even before entering college, I suppose—when a certain person who decided to stay anonymous asked through a popular social media query site how come an honor student, in the form of yours truly, only passed UP Baguio whereas others who academically ranked lower than I do were able to secure spots in UP Diliman. Regardless, passing UPCAT no matter what campus it may be, is a prestige for me already. My parents appreciated whatever award I get, and for them, the mere thought of getting the privilege to step on stage to receive an award for my academic excellence back in the days is more than enough.
Fast forward July 2014, this girl had hopes of continuing the academic excellence she had long started since preschool in the tertiary level, but then was crushed when she began receiving failing marks in quizzes and examinations. Upon growing up, I actually got used in not vocalising how do I do in school nor life in general at home, but I knew by that time I had to immediately give up my dream of becoming a Dean’s Lister.
Then came the series of sleepless nights and accounting lessons acting as my meals for the day, instead of real food. Apart from that, I’ve also had my fair share of crying buckets of tears, mental breakdowns, and nearly reaching the point of insanity.
Worse, more of the goals I have set for myself came crumbling right in front of me. Get exempted in Retention Exams? Failed. Get retained in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy? Failed.
On the flipside, getting shifted to Management Accounting was a blessing for me, it was my sense of ‘road to rediscover,’ although the feeling of not being favored was back. I felt that in high school, and I began to feel it in college as well with this sense of discrimination amongst BSMA students. Nonetheless, I just kept doing what is needed to be done for the goal of finishing undergraduate studies, which, by that time, happened to be by June 2018.
But few months in the BSMA Program, my body declared a war with me. I was literally forcing my body to at least cooperate with me, because my grades are badly declining with my inability to study. (-ber months, 2016: I get paralysed during the evening and can’t manage to do anything at all) There was this immense fear of not just failing a subject, but getting debarred from the college, so I was doing everything I can, to the point of inducing three painkillers when the body pains I experience decide to skyrocket from 3 to 10, just for me to be able to study, finish my requirements, and finish the term.
But there are just some things in life that really do happen when you least expect it. Was this superhero in her own story able to save the semester? Yes.
But becoming a step closer to the goal of getting the degree by 2018? Failed.
The day after I got my grades, I got diagnosed with cancer. I actually wasn’t surprised with the cancer, probably because my brother had been so good with mood setting (plus his background with medical stuff) that he made me thought of worst case scenarios. Hence, I was prepared for the worst and how to cope up with it.
But that preparation hadn’t included the thought of me stopping school for a while. When you got used to attending school as part of your routine, and then suddenly, someone tells you that you have to stop first—that’s a hard to swallow pill for me.
Or maybe, thinking about that now, it’s another route for me to take.
Let’s just say I entered another school for a semester. But instead of arming myself with my accounting, finance, business, and law books, as well as my calculator, I have my oral medicines, syringes, dextrose, vials, and blood bags as my companions.
After those eight months of intensive medications and struggles to not keep my mind idle, the doctor finally gave me a go signal—I can begin juggling my chemotherapy sessions and my studies by August 2017. I have officially garnered an extension in my degree program, which I declared for myself—Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting Major in Chemotherapy.
Admittedly, I have a lot of memorable experiences especially during that semester I came back schooling. Imagine me getting torn on missing class discussions because it coincides with my medical appointments, there was even a point that I had to take quizzes earlier than expected because I would be undergoing a medical procedure on the scheduled date.
I also recall initially disclosing my condition to my professors since I felt like I went to square one again, which probably was the case because I feel like I really am more aloof than ever when I returned to school. But then, I tried having a social experiment of not sharing my condition instead since I don’t feel the necessity of telling my profs that I have been undergoing chemo monthly and just continued to focus on passing every subject I am taking, because I had this notion that when I disclose it, professors would make me pass out of pity, not out of my hardwork. And that experiment actually even made me receive a psychological backlash from an instructor for wearing masks to school.
Nonetheless, receiving a warm welcome from my friends, an unexpected surprise from my newest set of blocmates, (hello 3MA10!) and sharing my story with them actually helped me become more comfortable dealing with my medical condition, even how I appear especially it’s been quite a long time for me since I managed to be out of the house on a daily basis.
Four semesters and a bunch of hardships later, I’m now through with my undergraduate studies. FINALLY.
The pile of disappointments I have gained all throughout this journey has given me a positive outcome, and this is where I realised, everything was worth it.
If there are people I would like to extend my utmost gratitude, the long list starts now:
To my first teacher in school, Teacher Chat, I’m now included in your long list of students who is now a Bachelor’s Degree holder and was once under your tutelage.
To these elementary teachers who have left a huge impact in my life, and shaped me as the person I am now—Teachers Maribel, Susan, Joel, Abbie, and Manny; as well as to these teachers in high school: Teacher Jas, Sir Red, Mr. Ricare, and to the person who brought out my caged skills, Teacher Nil
To the professor who gave off a brotherly figure by always checking how am I doing, Sir Alan, who instilled that there’s another chance for one to redeem himself when he falls, and nothing is impossible with hard work
To the professor who made me rediscover myself in AMV by making me love accounting, Sir Yabut, thank you for letting us digest the lessons in Financial Accounting 3 well. It’s an honor to be under your tutelage, even just for a semester
To the ates and kuyas who assist and whom I share few conversations with in the elevator
To my dearest friend, Adele, for understanding me when I felt almost everyone has turned their back on me, and for the continuous years of friendship that’s more than half of our lives already; as well as my constants whom I enjoy sharing deep conversations with—Nica, Camille, Marlu, and Andree
To these people whom I can freely bring out my fangirl self since high school—Bea, Meryll, and JP
To my driving force, the inspiration to keep going even with hardships, and my source of entertainment, iKON
To the closest friendships I have made through the internet which later became my irls—Gia, someone who probably is in the same wavelength as I, my soul sister, and my companion to spend our semester rituals with since 2015, now we’re graduating at the same time too; Charlene, my concert buddy whom I freely let out anything under the sun; MMS—Ynah, Bens, Patch, and Coleen, who never becomes complete in hangouts; and SEASONS—Patrishia, Emily, and Patricia, the first friendships I’ve created and treasured a lot, proving that our bond has always withstood the distance
To the person I treat as my little sister, Recell, whom I just enjoy having random banters with
To the girls who were with me when we got transferred to another section every semester, A GIRLS—Emmylou, Clarita, Angelica, and Gerika; to my good childhood friend I got reunited with in college, Christelle, and my most memorable seatmates in college, Marjorie, Rudien, Donna, and Abigail
To my sense of breather in AMV, Accountancy Journal, to the group of people I have found my home. Most especially to these people—Aldwin, the person who made me join this group of talented people; Ate Gayle, for believing in my skills back then, if I were to look at my application output, it’s definitely cringeworthy now; Ate Best, my closest ate in AJ; Nanay Lex, my savior—probably the person who made it possible me able to pass both Financial Accounting 1 and Cost Accounting, my mother figure in AMV; Kian, Alexis, Sofia, and Coleen, people who’ve made me grow and made it possible for me to harness my caged skills in design; Gab and Nellen, who’ve made me flourish further in the world of design; and to K-Pop and Shopee Department (hehe)
To the closest college friend I have ever made, Marielle, for giving me that sense of worth as a companion that I’m trustworthy enough to listen to your stories and rants
To the first friend I have made upon returning to the university, Pat, who always tells me I know the exact words to say
To the most diverse friendship group I’ve had, always there through thick and thin, HABIBEEF—Aldwin, Ciara, Kim, Nicole, Louie, Seth, Mia, Nina, Russel, Kenneth, and Mary, for bringing out the sociable person in me, for giving me my first flowers (circa 2017) which I appreciated so much, and for keeping the bond strong, even if we’re at different paths now
To my COMP3, feasibility study, and business plan groupmates, for the combined hardwork so we can all pull through
To all the people I have shared classes with: 1A4, 1A3, 2A2, 3MA3, 3A5, 3MA10, 4A1, 4A3, 4A5, 4A10, 3MA1, 4MA8, 4MA7, 4MA6, 4MA4, and 4MA1
To the person whom I always feel most comfortable to talk to in the oncology unit, Sister Vikki; as well as to the nurses who aid in medical procedures, and to my hematologist, who always keeps up on how am I doing in school, and makes sure that my body stays in remission
To Saint Jude Thaddaeus, for making it possible for me to complete First Semester, AY 2016-2017 which I deemed to be hopeless
To my companion every chemo session, Ate Ems, whenever my brother is not available; and to the person who’s fostered me when my parents are gone, Ate Pia, even when my brother and I were younger, with Lola Bebang (missing you everyday) at home back in the days
To the most supportive group of relatives, B2 L21, for being our go-to people, in all the glories and struggles shared, for celebrating my special days with me in my early years and even that one in the hospital, and everything in between
To my fellow graduating student, my brother, for showing to me the beauty of resilience, and for being a solid proof of everyone having their own pace; thank you for continuously pulling through, I will always be proud of how far have you gone
To my dad, for all the sacrifices you’ve made, especially being away from home for more than half of my life—not being able to witness firsthand how my brother and I has grown every single day, in order for you to give us a good life
To my mom, for being the support my brother and I have always needed, especially when we were growing from kids to young adults, my pillar of strength and my driving force to continue my daily battles, most especially for the tender loving care all these years, tracing from the time I am still in your tummy
And to God, for making me understand why unexpected things happen, all the blessings in disguise, and for the beauty of Your timing.
To you who reads this, the journey will never be easy, but I do hope you find the sense of satisfaction you are wishing for once you reach the finish line. And everyone has their own pace so go forth and continue making progress.
Your resident patient, then ‘wig fairy kim bok jas’ or ‘wig bok joo,’ now that short-haired girl with the black mask is finally having her graceful exit. Thanks for being my home for five long years, University of Santo Tomas – Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy.
Here’s to materialising more of the dreams we have made for ourselves, for no matter how long things may take, we are what we are destined to be. Your hardwork will definitely not betray you.
ANN JASMINE T. ASPIRAS
Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting
SUMMAsamgyup pag feel nya deserve nya,
CUMichemo din even with the academic load,
And namanage ko naman yun so ok na kahit walang LAUDE hehez”
God bless you, Jasmine! And you be blessed with better health in your coming years.