A 14 year old Cancer Survivor writes to the President before the SONA
Jul 22, 2017 — A 14 year old , Grade 10 Ateneo student, Seve Augusto Perez, a cancer survivor for over 9 years now, sent a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, requesting him something for SONA. We have permission to repost the full text here, and find out what he requested.
21 July 2017
HIS EXCELLENCY RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, City of Manila
Dear Mr. President,
On July 24, 2017, you will face Philippine Congress and the whole country for your second State of the Nation Address. This occasion is one of the most powerful conversations a leader can have with its people.
Because you are the most powerful man in the country, may I ask your help to make the fight against cancer one of your top priorities?
Eleven years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when I was three years old. I went through two and a half years of grueling cancer treatment. I thought all children lived like me. But then I realized I was different. I was losing my hair, instead of growing it. I spent more time in hospital beds than my own bed; more time in the laboratory room for blood extractions than my classroom, a thousand injections, many scans and transfusions, always wearing a mask, and limited time for play.
After 30 months of treatment, I almost didn’t make it. But through prayers, an awesome team of doctors and massive support from my family, relatives, parents of my pre-school classmates, I made it to my 14th birthday and have the honor of writing you today.
My parents always told me to be strong and I obeyed. Looking back, I suspect they were talking to themselves because they were afraid I would lose my battle. My parents gave up food, sleep, time at work, time with my other siblings. They had to borrow money. It was a very hard time for our family. This is a nightmare you don’t wish on anyone, including your enemies.
I thought my story was rare. But these days I meet more children, teenagers and adults with cancer. Most of them died because they couldn’t afford the treatments or detected their cancers very late. I also heard stories that some were abandoned by their families.
I’ve seen what it’s like to lose someone to cancer.
When I lost my lola, my grandaunt, it’s as if the light dimmed on our family reunions. She was the light and life of our reunions. I wish I had more time with her to learn from her wisdom and to serve her the way she spoiled me when I was sick. It’s worst for my good friend who lost his father at age 11. Being a boy, like me, he longs for his father’s love, guidance and protection every day.
I know death is a natural part of life, but knowing many of these deaths could’ve been prevented is heartbreaking.
I heard about your efforts in Davao in battling cancer for adults and children. There are comprehensive programs in place. Please do the same for the whole country. We need laws that can help prevent cancer, diagnose it early, provide free or affordable treatments or to help manage pain, because cancer can be very painful. We need more doctors, nurses, and other medical professions to be trained in cancer care. We need more cancer facilities, research, we need to let people know how one can beat cancer. And we need to let people know how to support cancer survivors.
I, my parents and their friends have formed organizations to give cancer patients hope and help. But their efforts are not enough. Cancer is bigger than their organizations. We need the power of government.
I am terrified Mr. President. It looks like cancer is winning. Please tell Congress, we must act now.
Maraming salamat po! God Bless!
Seve Augusto S. Perez
14 years old (9-year Cancer Survivor)
Grade 10, Ateneo de Manila Junior High School
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