Two Sundays ago, my sister was featured in Barbie Chan’s makeover column on Manila Bulletin Sunday. I was the one who sent an email to Barbie requesting for a makeover, because I want my sister to feel happy and confident again after her 2-year battle with Leukemia. I hope her story inspires other people undergoing the same ordeal.

A Leukemia Survivor Takes the Road to Beauty and Recovery
By Glaiza LeePhotos by Pinggot ZuluetaManila Bulletin, JUly 27, 2008
Carmina Bernadette Buendia, 19, didn’t have a normal teenage life. At 16, she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by abnormal production of blood cells, usually white blood cells.

On December 25, 2005, Carmina saw several unexplainable bruises on her body. They were large enough to cause alarm. Carmina’s family decided to take her to a doctor.

I the hospital, she underwent a blood test which showed a high number of white blood cells, which caused a blood platelet deficiency. Thinking it was just anemia, the doctor gave her a medical treatment, and discharged her afterwards.

In the following weeks, the pain and bruises persisted. She also experienced severe headaches as well as stomachaches coupled with diarrhea.

She was rushed again to the hospital, where she underwent bone marrow aspiration to check what kind of disease she had. The hematologist eventually diagnosed her with leukemia.

“There was fear, especially when the doctor told us after the diagnosis that I only had three months to live if I wouldn’t undergo treatment immediately,” shared Carmina.

She continued: “It would be easier to blame God, but I didn’t. There were times when I would ask myself why it happened to me. I think that’s normal. You want to know why you, of all people, were afflicted with the disease,” said Carmina.
Carmina underwent chemoteraphy in San Juan de Dios Hospital. She had experienced hair loss, diminishing appetite, weakness, and nausea coupled with with headache. She even suffered from hematoma, blood clotting, and bleeding.

Her usual gimik was characterized by trips to the hospital for regular checkups, medical treatment, and blood count monitoring. She had no time or the energy to dress up. Her only accessory was the mask she usually wore when going out of their house.

What kept her strong was her family. There were times when she would feel weak and start losing hope, but her family kept pushing and supporting her. That was enough for her to continue the fight.

She just finished her chemoteraphy sessions. She will undergo another bone marrow aspiration to check if there are still cancer cells in her bloodstream. This October, she will continue her BS Nursing course.

Second ChancesBarbie Chan
Subject: Carmina Bernadette BuendiaAge: 19Diagnosis: Needsto feel alive and kicking again!
I want to Feel Pretty Please…

Carmina’s story is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. She is a vibrant, beautiful young woman who was robbed of 2 years of her life because of that dreaded leukemia. But what’s inspiring is her desire and will to live, not to mention her sister’s love for her. It was her sisterwho actually wrote to me and asked if I could do the maekover for Carmina.

Boots Eugenio (August 8): It was really very inspiring, will be sharing this to my friends. Keep in touch and God Bless you
Ador Red (August 8): It was so sad to hear that your sister is sufferring from this dreaded illness but on the other hand, i am so inspired by the courage and will power being shown by her and most importantly the support and love being provided by her family. All the best to your sister and family.
Kras Frialde (August 8): I hope your sister is fully leukemia-free soon!
Art Plata (August 9): did’nt know about your sister even when I was with Asia Select. I knew she was sick but not this serious. Anyway, the Lord is good. He will find the way. It’s a good thing your sister is feeling better. My prayers May for a full recovery.
Migs Lim (July 27): Wow! She’s pretty! May bf na ba yan? Haha!
Jay Simeon (July 27): I admire her courage and outlook in life. Praying for her complete recovery.
Tony Causing (July 27): COngrats to Nini, whole page! Congrats to you too for the care and love of her. It’s just great.

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