WARNING: Graphic photos ahead.
Cancer is a ruthless adversary, a silent nemesis that attacks a person from the inside out.
And as cancer statistics continue to rise, so do the number of families that share in the suffering of a cancer-stricken patient.
For Carlo Bravo and his family, their cancer journey began in January 2013, when Carlo was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a very rare and aggressive type of cancer.
Living with cancer
Living with cancer is no small feat, and every day of life is a small victory in itself.
It’s been three years since Carlo was first diagnosed with the big C — three years of victory for this brave fighter.
Carlo has been through indescribable physical pain and suffering. Since 2013, he has undergone 33 sessions of radiation therapy, one and a half years of IV chemotherapy, as well as a major surgery in November 2014.
The tissues and bones of his right face had been affected by the disease. A tumor protruded from his mouth and lips, making speaking, eating, and sleeping difficult.
After the surgery, Carlo changed his lifestyle. He ate more fish, fruits and vegetables, and avoided eating meat. Carlo was cancer-free.
Click next to find out how things took a turn for the worse for Carlo and his family
Just when it seemed like Carlo had finally triumphed over cancer, the disease struck a second time–bigger, angrier, and more aggressive than before. It was May 2015 — barely 6 months after his surgery.
His doctors put him on Pazopanib, an expensive oral chemotherapy drug. Despite shelling out Php 100,000 a month for the drug, Carlo’s tumor had not responded after five months of treatment. In fact, it had only grown larger, leading Carlo’s doctors to conclude that the tumor had become resistant to the drug.
All possible treatments and procedures were done but to no avail. Doctors were at a loss, and advised Carlo to seek treatment in Singapore.
In January 2016, Carlos flew to Singapore, where he was advised to continue taking Pazopanib in a bid to shrink the size of the tumor, which was otherwise inoperable.
Financial devastation and a race against time
Today, the tumor has shrunk, and surgery can be done. But the family has ran out of funds, and they are racing against time.
In the three years that Carlos has been living with cancer, the family has spent millions in diagnostic procedures, hospitalization, a surgery, various treatments, and personalized nutrition. They have sold their assets, asked from family and friends, as well as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Carlo needs $100,000 AUD more for his operation in Singapore to push through. The surgery needs to be done soon before the tumor once more becomes resistant to Pazopanib.
Hoping to raise funds for the much-needed surgery, Carlo’s loved ones have set-up a crowd-funding page, Your Coffee Fund vs Cancer.
As of writing, almost $14,000 has been raised–still a long way off from the needed amount.
Holding on to a cancer-free tomorrow
Carlo runs the risk of becoming half-paralyzed from the surgery. But he remains undaunted. Though staring uncertainty in the face, Carlo continues to hope for a cancer-free tomorrow.
Cancer may have robbed him of his former life and left his family in dire financial need. It may have disfigured him, but his spirit remains intact. This brave warrior still has so much fight in him. He is victorious–one day at a time.
Read: Strength of a Father: Dad Survives Terminal Brain Cancer With New Therapy and Family Support
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