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Battling cancer with a smile and lots of laughter

By Patti Sunio | Jul. 27, 2013 at 08:02pm
Without a doubt, it was her unwavering faith and positive mindset that saved her. Cancer survivor Michelle Dayrit-Soliven, who lives to tell of her victory over the Big C, reveals that it was the choice to trust that brought her through.

Michelle says it was her positivity and ability to find humor in situations that got her through her worst days.

“Trust in God, trust in your doctors, and trust in your attitude—these are the key elements to healing and recovery,” shares Michelle. “The combination of prayer, the right medical treatments, the positive attitude, the love of God, and the doctors’ skilled hands helped me overcome my sickness.”

It was in January 2012 when Michelle was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer—about five years after a bout with endometrial cancer. While those close to her shed tears and expressed their sadness and fears upon hearing the news, Michelle remained the strong one, never complaining or crying from the pain her illness was causing her.

With her love for life and sense of humor, she made sure to make each moment count despite what she was going through physically. Throughout her battle with cancer, Michelle tirelessly hosted outrageous chemotherapy parties at the pediatric ward of the Makati Medical Center (“my cubicle was too small to accommodate all the guests, food, and party paraphernalia!”), ate and enjoyed every meal she had, and embraced her condition wholeheartedly.

Soon, doctors revealed that the tumor found beneath her breast bone had already spread. Michelle was then admitted to MakatiMed and went through the necessary treatments. “The staff at MakatiMed is really good. In the operating room, the doctors’ hands were light as feathers—I didn’t feel a thing and I felt so safe with them,” Michelle recalls. “I believed in my doctors and trusted they would make me better. I thank God for them.”

Michelle had to undergo mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. Her doctors decided to shrink the tumor first so it can be easily removed, and then perform reconstructive surgery with expanders and radiation. After three chemotherapy sessions, an MRI scan showed that the tumor shrank. Three more procedures followed through until the doctors could no longer find the tumor in the MRI, thus giving Michelle the all-clear.

When asked how she managed to be such a fighter in spite of her situation, Michelle attributes it to her choice of attitude and perspective. “You can be sad or happy; you can choose to look good or bad. You can be in pain and act like it’s nothing—and your pain becomes nothing.” And yes, she chose to be positive; not to dwell on her pain, but to keep moving and celebrating the beauty of every moment.

While Michelle has the MakatiMed team to thank for her physical recovery and care, it was her positivity and ability to find humor in situations that got her through her worst days. For instance, instead of feeling heartbroken over losing all her hair from the chemotherapy, she found herself amused when people started sending her all kinds of wigs.

“They gave me long hair, short hair, bob cut, blonde, red, black, and brown wigs!” Michelle shares with a chuckle. “Not only that—they also offered prayers and sent over food, even Holy Water! I really had no time to worry or feel bad because I was having such a joyful time.”

If there was one thing she will always remember about her journey, Michelle attests, it would be “What strong faith can really do. When you surrender your sickness, your problems and challenges to God, He’ll give you everything you need.”

With such an admirable outlook on life that emerged from a season of pain and uncertainty, Michelle is clearly set to be a victor in everything she does from here on out.
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