Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quilling Away for Breast Cancer II

Where was I nine years ago?  It seems like it was another lifetime. I was a mother of two young children. I was re-entering the workforce after years of being at home. After many years of being adrift, I was slowly returning to the faith of my childhood.  At the age thirty-four, my life was just beginning.  Yet for one of my dear childhood friends, it had come to an end.

My friend Florie May reminds me of the flowers that bloom in May, the month she was born.  Her smile makes me think of the sunshine peculiar to this merry month. In the Philippines where we grew up, summer, or the dry season ended in May.  I remember that the sunshine in May was strong but fleeting, trying to keep the June rain at arm's length.  It was like my friend who graced this earth briefly.   

Soon after she had a baby, May felt a lump.  The doctor did a needle biopsy but was not able to aspirate any fluid for analysis.  Being that she had no family history of breast cancer, the doctor thought that it was plainly a blocked milk duct.  A few months, later, another doctor diagnosed her with Stage IV breast cancer. Within a year, her mother too was diagnosed.  May bravely battled this disease, going into remission a few times. Her husband said that she had a bone marrow transplant, which was still experimental at that time.  Despite the poor prognosis, May fought on for eight more years.  

At one time, during a good moment, we reconnected.  I told her that I missed her calls and letters.  She told me that many times she felt angry.  How could the rest of us go on and have normal lives while she was suffering so much?  Did we even realize how cold her head got, having lost all her hair? No scarf, hat nor bandanna could make up for her own hair. Yet when she visited me a few years later, I did not detect any negative thought.  She was beautiful, hopeful and happy.  I looked forward to her moving to San Diego.

In 2002, just when I was waiting for a call that she was in town, I heard from another friend that May had gone home to the Philippines.  She knew the end was near and wanted to be with her family.  The following year, her mother too had passed.  This year, her oldest sister succumbed to the disease.

I call this my Florie May ribbon.  

This year too, my friend Michelle lost her cousin Joanna to breast cancer. Only thirty seven, Joanna left behind a husband and two small children. Despite her grief, my friend Michelle has channeled her energy into raising awareness.  She will be doing the 3-Day Walk for the Cure in San Diego this November.

United for Jo
I have been quilling for seven years.  This year, my passion came back with a desire to go above and beyond the usual stuff.  I find a lot of inspiration in teaching the art.  My daughter loves quilling with me. I discovered recently that she also is a good teacher, encouraging other children and grown-ups alike when she assisted in my last quilling class.  She told me that when she grows up, she will teach her daughter as well.


  1. Ayel, no words nor phrases can I describe the stories you've shared here. I am so touched by the experiences you allow us to enjoy with you. Everyday I look forward to seeing your daily walk pictures. So thank you for sharing your heartbeat with us! I truly enjoy them. God bless you and your family abundantly!

  2. Great blog! Straight to the point yet a lot of folks are not fully aware of breast cancer. Even doctors disagree on some issues about it. There is still a lot to learn but luckily, because of people like you, more and more are increasing their awareness. Bravo!

  3. Thanks, Jules and Bobby for reading. may truly lives on!

  4. Ayel, I am very touched, emotional yes, but at peace knowing that Florie May is in a better place. She no longer hurts, no longer have to go through painful episodes of radiation treatments and chemotherapies. We all miss and now, she is our Angel. I'm sure she appreciates all dedication that you do when her birthday month is here and during breast awareness month. Thank you so much my friend...

  5. ayel, reading your story about May brought back memories of our high school days...seeing the two of you in made me sad...but i know May is happy in heaven seeing how much we love and miss her. take care and God bless you and your family!

  6. Ayel,
    This is such a touching way of remembering a very dear friend...I still miss May a lot..thanks a lot for keeping her memories alive and for raising awareness on breast cancer...take care sis!

  7. What a touching story..I have an aunt battling the disease.
    Dr Sonia
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