“Cancer is a Friendly Disease”

Lina Bernardo lost a husband, companion, friend, lover, and husband two years ago. Christmas Eve would not be the same again for December 24 was the date Lina Belo became Mrs. Bernardo. The last thing Mar gave to his wife was a card and a dinner in their favorite restaurant.

“Friend mo siya forever, kahit sa pamilya niya. Lagi siyang nakikinig. Kahit kasalanan ko, ako pa rin yung bida. Approachable siya. You can tell any problem,” said Lina as she retrieved memories of her husband.

During the first few months after Mar’s death, she struggled over loneliness. She had to deal the realities of widowhood. She missed those days when she had Mar to accompany her in grocery store. She missed those moments when they watched movies together and she missed those days when they worshiped together in Samar where they first met and fell in love.

Lina, now, can smile and talk at ease about her husband’s death but she has gone through a lot of pain before she can be in her current state.

Two months fighting cancer was like a decade battle. Before Mar was diagnosed with colon cancer, he had been suffering dizziness and high blood pressure. They did not know it would soon lead to his death. Even if she knew how chronic her husband’s condition, she did not give up. When Mar was hospitalized, she drank coffee like water. She witnessed how hard for Mar to sleep. As she saw her husband’s body deteriorating, she became more fearful.

She was in teary eyes as she described how grateful she was to her friends and loved ones in the church. She regained her strength when the members would visit and sing with her and her husband. They cried with her. Empathy from others was her best comfort.

In Pangasinan, she said to her husband for 29 years, “Mar, huwag ka munang mamatay, i-survive mo muna yung sarili mo.” Upon hearing, he held her hand. One week after, he died.

Looking back, she said, “Cancer is a friendly disease.” It gave an opportunity for Mar to be cared for and to be loved by those who are special to him. The illness that scared a lot of people brought her some life lessons. “I become closer to God, “ she said.

From there, she learned how precious life is. “Everyday sinasabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘I choose to be happy’. Ni-rerecite ko sa sarili: ‘Life is precious. Life is good.’ This is how she recovered. Since then, she treasured life by learning to forgive and eliminating stress and negative thoughts.

She added, “I ty to philosophize that ( it is also positive): I’m free to do what I want. I can go anywhere. I am not trying to please anyone.” She opened herself to more people by sharing her experience.

She learned to appreciate life as well as death. Family and friends gave her books to comfort. She read A Glimpse of Eternity which taught her death is beautiful. It helped her feel better thinking that “masarap ang mamatay.”

My aunt and yours truly

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