Saturday Reflections

“What we are, is God’s work. He has created us, in Christ Jesus, for the good works he has prepared.”
I remember when I was a kid, I dreamt of becoming big someday. At least that somebody whose very presence is admired and sought by many. I envisioned myself many times conquering the stage, the courtroom, the boardroom. Well, I must say that reality is actually a distorted version of fantasy. One that is really quite funny if you think about it but also a bit enlightening in a way.
One of the things I am proud of in my 37 years of existence is that, I have managed to become that somebody at least to my loved ones. I am Mom to Bianca, Mrs. Dela Cruz to my students, and wife to Nan. I have conquered many places too, the stage as Bianca’s stagemom, the classroom as the funny SS teacher, our home as the former wife of Nan who is now resting in peace with the Lord, the road as the running mama, and the publising world as a writer/contributor for parenting magazines.
I have become sought after too. Kids come knocking at the faculty’s door looking for me when I am running late in class. And my very presence, well, it isn’t lacking in admiration especially among grade school children. A simple dance routine in clubs or an intersting powerpoint presentation in my class are enough to earn me a standing ovation. People, 7-9 year olds to be exact, call out my name, stop to say Hi, and even request for a picture.
When we find ourselves living a life different from what we imagined or taking a path different from the one we originally planned, know that it wasn’t accidental, we didn’t make a wrong turn. This is actually all part of the God’s grand master scheme for our life. We are exactly where God wants us to be right at this moment because He believes that this is the best way we can carry out His mighty plans. So where ever you are, whatever you have become, live out God’s amazing purpose for you.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This October, I am one with the thousand others in celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wether it be in remembering every cancer patient, family, relative, or friend who has lost their battle to breast cancer or honoring the survivors and those who are still courageously fighting with the disease.
I know first hand how physically, emotionally, and even spiritually trying this disease can be both for the sick and her family. My only daughter, Bianca, was diagnosed with a different kind of cancer, Papillary Carcinoma (Thyroid Cancer in layman’s term) back in 2012. Sometimes the memory of her difficult experience during surgery and RAI treatment still knock the wind out of me. The fear alone that this lifetime disease would recur in the future is enough to stress the life out of anyone.
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My daughter is not cancer free yet but we are certain in time, she’ll be. I am sure a lot would agree with me when I say that when you have invested enough in this fight, you’ll do everything to achieve victory. That’s what my daughter as well as the other cancer patients, survivors, and care givers I know have been doing. And it is for this reason that I have nothing but deep admiration for them for remaining positive and strong in the face of this dreaded disease. Their tenacity, will power, and faith during and after the ordeal are truly inspiring.
Despite the heartache, I still must say that I would always see cancer as a blessing rather than a misfortune in my family. It is because it has become a way for us to receive God’s amazing grace and boundless blessings. It also continue to serve as a great reminder for us everyday to celebrate life and its many big and even little yet significant victories.

Chronicles of a Reluctant Widow: Grief

To grow old with her beloved and to pass from this life together are the prayer and longing of every wife that loves. Not all get lucky though and are granted a happy-ever-after, some are simply blessed in a different way. Yesterday, I listened with a heavy heart as a dear friend recounted painfully her last few days with her husband. While she was sharing, it suddenly occured to me that grief is never the same for everyone for the very reason that we each have our own unique story of love and the breadth and depth of that love can’t be compared with another. So it is not right, even for me to say, I know exactly how she feels. I also realized that from the many stories of love I heard from fellow widows, one thing seems to be certain. It is, when there is love there is no such thing as too much, too little, too long, nor even too hard. And it is always, you are, we are, enough.

Chronicles of a Reluctant Widow: Inertia

 
nanblancs3 years later and I still remember everything like it was just yesterday: how I watched helplessly as the doctor shocked your heart back into rhythm. How I willed the flatlines to move. How I waited with bated breath for the current to bring back the light in your eyes. 38 years of momentum and then suddenly, a complete stop. I imagine the force it took to silence the last beat of your heart. It must have been so great because it flung you out far, too far where I can never reach you, except by remembering. Someday, death will come to stop me too, and I will give him a big fight. He will have to drain the entire universe of every star to hold my body down. And like how I planned it all along, I will be flung out to the heavens too at fullspeed, I will defy gravity, change tides, and slow down light. And I will search every inch of heaven until I find you.

Music

imageMy dear Bianca Angela,
Quite frankly I really do not know where your talent in music comes from. It can’t be from daddy, he’s tone deaf or from me, I can’t carry a tune. But then you being good at it is no surprise considering how earnestly you danced and moved inside my womb before everytime you hear sweet beatiful music play. It must be that your ears were trained early to listen and respond to the melodies of your heart or my heart. There’s a certain kind of music, a certain kind role in the world that only you can play. I hope you will always find the passion to express and fullfill it.
Love,
Mommy

Make It Happen

Build a small house with a rose garden. Be owned by cuddly dogs. Surround myself with my little and my big loves. Fall asleep to butterfly kisses and wake up to warm hugs. Grow old with the person I hold dear in my heart. Write and then write some more. Smile and laugh a lot. This life. It won’t be perfect and it won’t always be easy. But, it will be mine and I will be happy. That’s the plan. That’s the want.

Motherhood

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I think 14 years later, I still haven’t gotten this motherhood thing right. I still haven’t done the whole baking, cooking, arts and crafts, and wash/laundry routine that would make me a qualified homemaker just yet. I probably would have, had tragedy didn’t struck early. The most I’ve done so far are drive my kid to school, teach her how to be a self-starter, and bring her to the best places where we can score good food and great dessert. You could say that I am more close to mastering fatherhood than motherhood. But then again, there are moms and there are single moms. While every woman can be a mom, I guess it takes a badass mom to become a dad too. And yes, I’m badass.

Managing Summer Acne With Proactiv

Summer is synonymous to vacations, thrilling adventures, and  the great outdoors. But unfortunately for some, the high temperature can also spell acne and its complications. The sweltering heat often cause sweating, which when mixed with excessive oil, dirt and bacteria clog skin pores and lead to breakouts. But then the good news is, despite our overactive oil glands this summer, we can still enjoy the sun, thanks to the best pimple-fighting ally: Proactiv Solution! It is the leading anti-acne treatment product in the market that is proven safe and effective for everyone. Not only does it address acne from the roots, it also helps prevent facial blemishes!
How It Works
Proactiv’s mild formulations gently exfoliate skin, remove excess oil, and deliver powerful acne-fighting medicine. Its acne-care system can work alone or in combination with a dermatologist’s prescriptions. Its micro-crystal medicine penetrates pores fast and delivers instant acne-fighting action.
How to Achieve Acne-Free, Summer Ready Skin
Making Proactiv an essential part of your daily skincare regimen is just easy since it only takes five minutes to apply. Its oil-free formulation is designed to absorb excess oil giving face a more mattified appearance.  Skin remains soft, smooth, hydrated, and without the greasy look and feel.
Simple Three-Step System to Acne-Free Skin:
Proactiv Summer Photo
RENEW
Step 1: Renewing Cleanser
This medicated Renewing Cleanser is made with exclusive micro-crystal benzoyl peroxide. This small, fine particles are designed to quickly penetrate pores and kill acne-causing bacteria on contact. They act as tiny exfoliating beads that gently remove dirt, excess oil, and dead skin cells.
REVITALIZE
Step 2: Revitalizing Toner
This refreshing, alcohol-free toner helps remove impurities and excess oil so skin looks and feels clean, soft and refreshed . The soothing botanical agents in this solution also gently balance the skin tone.
REPAIR
Step 3: Repairing Treatment
This feather light, medicated repairing solution gets deep into clogged pores faster. It is designed to be gentler on the skin. Its oil-free formula makes it safe to use in your entire face.
BONUS: Refining Mask
This rich, deep cleansing mask uses sulfur, a proven acne blemish-fighting ingredient that reaches deep into the pores. It heas  existing blemishes, pampers inflamed skin, and softens and refines the skin’s texture.
This summer, we can definitely beat the breakouts, by using PROACTIV!

Protect Your Skin From the Sun With Daylong

I never thought I’ll manage to run a 10 km in this heat but yesterday morning, I did, thanks to my new sunscreen! When I was training for the marathon, I would wake up as early as 5 am to beat the sunrise. I would clock in a nice 14-16 km long run and a few short runs every week. But then when summer came, it has been very difficult for me to do even a 10. It is because by the time I packed in some decent miles, the sun is already scorching hot and I can feel it burning my skin. So lately, I have been running mostly in the afternoons.  I have to admit that even at this time, there’s no escaping the heat.  A sunscreen is still in order since the sun stays till 5:30 pm. 
I have never been a fan of sunscreen lotion. Well, maybe because I don’t like how it leaves me feeling icky and how its dizzying smell sometimes linger. But when I became enagaged in this sport, I have recognized the need to apply it more often especially when a couple of friends remarked how I seemed to have aged with just a few months of running and also when I learned that two of my friends’ relatives have been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma a.k.a skin cancer due to severe heat expore. Those harmful UV and infrared radiation are really no joke, mind you. 
When my daughter and I were shopping for a new sunscreen after our supply ran out, we came accross a line of Daylong Sun Protection from Galderma. I decided to try it because I figured if its from the same maker of Cetaphil, it must be good. My daughter has been a Cetaphil user since she was a baby.  We absolutely swear by this product since it cured her of atopic dermatitis.
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Anyway, back to Daylong. I purchased the Daylong Gel SPF50+ for sensitive to oily skin since I have both. And boy, it didn’t disappoint. I put on a generous amount on my skin before a run and it didn’t feel sticky at all! Even when my sweat glands were working overtime, my skin remains grease free. And the best part, no scent! I instantly loved it. My face usually stings whenever I stay too long under the sun even with sunscreen on. Surprisingly, with Daylong, there’s none of that. A clear indication that this product has no strong chemicals and has been dermotologically tested safe. Looks like, I have found the perfect sunscreen! 
There’s a lot to be said about the harmful effects of UVA, UVB, and IR radiation. Premature aging, irreversible sun damage, skin cancer to name a few. If you want to know more about these  hard facts as well as how Daylong can protect your skin down to a cellular level, visit their website at http://daylong.ph. They have interesting reads there. 
Next on our list to try is the Daylong Sun Protection for kids! Yes they have that too. I am excited because my daughter is willing to try the product after letting her know that yes it’s grease free and fragrance free! She loves the great outdoors but hates putting on sunscreen like me. Lets see how this one goes.:) 

Thyroid Cancer and Radiation Plus A Way To Shield Your Baby From Exposure With Belly Armor

When we were seeking treatment for my daughter’s thyroid cancer, doctors often asked whether or not I was exposed to radiation when I was pregnant or Bianca, for that matter, when she was still a baby.  Apparently exposure to radiation along with genetics has been seen as one of the risk factors of thyroid cancer in children. 
Thyroid cancer is considered as a slow progressing type of cancer.  You can have it for years without you knowing it.  It usually manifest itself later as an enlarged thyroid which when tested through fine needle aspiration biopsy yield positive for malignancy. Although common in adults in their mid 20s to late 40s, it is very rare in children.  In fact, only 5 new cases per 1,000,000 children in the US are recorded every year. My daughter, Bianca, had hers two years ago when she was only 12. We didn’t know she had it until one afternoon when we noticed an unusual lump at the base of her neck. After a series of tests, it was confirmed that she had papillary carcinoma.  Our surgeon decided to perform a total thyroidectomy right away and a month after her surgery, she received radioactive iodine treatment.  She has not been declared cancer free yet but she is responding well to thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Although considered as the friendliest among all cancers, I still wouldn’t wish it to anyone, especially to a child, because well, cancer is cancer. The treatment is long term and the risk that it can come back at any given time and in other form will always be there.
As far as I know I wasn’t exposed to any  type radiation when I was pregnant but then again, I might unknowingly have been considering that a lot of what we use everyday emit low level radiation. The alarming thing about low level radiation is that it can have a huge impact not just on babies inside a mommy’s tummy but also to young children in general. Based on studies done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children absorb two times more radiation in their brains and ten times more on the bone marrow of their skulls. Studies in Yale University School of Medicine and UCLA also showed that mothers exposed to cellphone radiation impacts fetal development that can lead to numerous other problems. 
As our society becomes increasingly wireless, the levels of radiation exposure we receive continue to grow at an alarming rate. As moms, we should be mindful of this and take precautionary measures to shield our kids and even our unborn children from the harm that it can bring. There are products such as Belly Armor in the market today that can do just that. 
 
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Belly Armor is a line of maternity accessories that uses Radiashield Technology.  The Radiashield fabric, a high conductive silver textile with the same shielding property as that of a 1/4 inch thick aluminum sheet protect against everyday radiation coming from cellphones, laptops, wireless towers, and other devices. Things that we use everyday and whose side effects we really don’t give much thought. If you are interested to know more about how Belly Armor products can protect your unborn child and infant, visit their website at www.bellyarmor.com.
 Had these Belly Armor products been around some 13 years ago, I would have bought one for myself in a heartbeat if only to ensure the safety of my baby.