Anthony “Ka Tunying” Taberna says he and his wife Rossel Velasco remain grateful and feeling blessed despite what they’re going through as a family.
Their eldest daughter Zoey, who’s 12 years old, has been battling leukemia. The couple admitted that, at first, they struggled to accept Zoey’s condition, but they have since learned to let this challenge strengthen them instead.
“Mas closer kami ngayon at naiintidihan namin ang isa’t isa ngayong mas maraming dumadating na problema. Kasi sabi nga, masusubok mo ‘yung character ng isang tao kung dinadaan ka ng bagyo, eh,” said the news anchor in an interview on “I Feel U” last Sunday, February 21.
“Naging closer as a family, hindi lang dahil sa pandemic, but of course, dahil na rin sa situation ng aming panganay na anak,” Rossel added.
They shared that it was in December 2019 when Zoey first started showing signs of leukemia. In the beginning, Ka Tunying and Rossel thought what she was experiencing was not that serious. But one morning, Zoey woke them up complaining about severe pain in her legs and thighs.
“Meron siyang sinasabing masakit ‘yung binti niya, masakit ‘yung hita niya, tapos minsan nagba-blackout daw siya ‘pag nasa school. Naisip namin baka tinatamad lang mag-aral, gano’n. Pero nung dumating na ‘yung December early morning, nung ginising niya kaming mag-asawa, at umiiyak at sinabing masakit talaga ‘yung hita niya at binti. Sabi ko dadalin namin siya ospital, hindi siya nagdalawang isip. Takot sa ospital ‘yan, eh,” said Ka Tunying.
It came as a huge blow when her test results returned and they were told that it was leukemia. “Parang nagpaguho sa mundo namin. Sapagkat ang salitang leukemia pa lamang ay nakakatakot na.”
Ka Tunying and Rossel tried their best to show Zoey no sign of despair and kept their daughter’s illness a secret from her for a while.
“Nung una namin nalaman, siyempre nandoon ka sa stage ng denial, eh. Hindi mo alam kung paano mo sasabihin sa anak mo. Actually, matagal bago niya nalaman na ‘yun ang karamdaman niya. ‘Pag nasa harap kami ni Zoe, alam mo naman si Ka-Tunying, very jolly, So ‘yun lang pinapakita namin sa kanya, so gano’n lang namin pinapakita sa kanya. Pero kaming dalawa, hindi namin alam kung paano ipu-put together. Tumigil talaga ‘yung mundo, literal,” said Rossel.
As a mother, Rossel started blaming herself and wondered what she had done wrong. “Inisip ko, ano bang nagawa mo bilang magulang, masyado ka bang okupado sa mga anak mo? Of course, may ganoong feeling as a mother. Nagkaroon ng time talaga sinisisi ko ‘yung sarili ko. Dapat alam ko ‘yung condition ng anak ko. Abrupt ‘yung weight loss, akala lang namin nagdadalaga, peer pressure, pero ‘yun pala may mabigat na siyang karamdaman.”
It was then their family became closer to God and they started to see this chapter in their life in a more positive light.
“Financially, career-wise, tapos ang hanap-buhay, maayos naman. May tendency kasi ang tao, kapag wala siyang problema, may napapabayaan na kala mo kaya mo na lahat. Pero nung nangyari itong kay Zoey, parang pinaalala sa amin ng Panginoong Diyos na, ‘Huy! Lalo kayong lumapit sa akin.’ Ayaw niya lumayo ka sa Kanya, so ‘yung problema na pinagdaanan namin ‘yun ‘yung ginamita Niya para lumapit kami sa Kanya. Ayun, naging normal na na araw-araw nagpe-pray kami as a family,” said Ka Tunying.
“Ngayon namin na-appeicate ‘yung mga pinagdadaanan namin. Bilang mag-asawa, bilang pamilya, it made us sobrang stronger and tighter as a family. Pagkatapos nito ang dami pa naming nadaaanan na mabibigat. Sobrang dami pa. Pero ‘yung pakiramdam na nadaananan na namin ‘yung pinakamabigat, so sisiw na lang ‘yung iba,” said Rossel.
Zoey just had her head shaved ahead of her chemotherapy. But she has been such a little fighter and acts as the source of inspiration for all of them. “Kumukuha kami ng inspiration kay Zoey, being bata, siya pa ‘yung malakas. Siya ‘yung matapang. Siya ‘yung lumalaban. So, nakakahiya naman sa amin bilang mga magulang na sa amin pa makikita ang kahinaan kung ang nga anak namin is a fighter.”
Ka Tunying and Rossel have been married for almost 13 years. They also have a younger daughter named Helga.
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