Time in a bottle of pills

By Limuel S. Celebria

My first bottle of Pazopanib – an anti-cancer drug, came through the other day after being shipped from Cebu City. As soon as I get cleared of my pneumonia and other minor ills, we will begin protocols on a targeted drug therapy program. The battle against cancer will be joined.

I have renal cell carcinoma stage IV with pulmonary metastasis. Everyone familiar with cancer knows this – it’s a journey from which there is no return. I’ve been handed a one-way ticket.

Fortunately, not all is grim. I love to travel. I enjoy looking out the window to gaze at the passing landscape and contemplate on the ever-changing horizons. This is one journey I intend – not just to enjoy – but to prolong as much as I can.

Pazopanib is considered a breakthrough drug in cancer treatment (according to the brochure). It eliminated the need for those dangerously unreliable chemotherapy machines of the past.

Wikipedia describes pazopanib as “a potent and selective multi-targeted receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor that blocks tumor growth and angiogenesis.” Pazopanib can stop cancer cells from developing new blood vessels. This reduces their supply of oxygen and nutrient so that the tumor shrinks or stops growing. This is known as the anti-angiogenesis treatment (whatever that means).

In other words, pazopanib acts as a blockade interdicting food supplies from reaching the cancer cells and starves them to death. There’s no 100 percent guarantee but statistics are high that the drug does its job.

Pazopanib is now the coke that will add years to my life. I’ll be buying time contained in a bottle of pills.

There’s just one hiccup. The drug is not manufactured in the Philippines and has to be imported from the UK or India. Although there is a local distributor, the price is steep – P35 thousand per bottle of 30 pills @400 mg. My prescription calls for twice a day (800mg) dosage which means I’ll be consuming 2 bottles per month (worth P70,000). Which also means, if I don’t die of cancer quick, I’ll die of starvation instead. Literally, I’ll starve myself in order to starve the cancer?

Science aside, there’s one other aspect, a more heartwarming, gratifying side to this excursion, and that is the spiritual side. I am very grateful to the many prayer warriors (many of you included) who have volunteered for my cause. A multitude is now harassing St. Peter with prayer and supplication to delay my passage into the pearly gates.

While I am not, in practice, a “devout” Christian or Catholic (as the case maybe), I’m a firm believer in God our Creator and in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. I lay claim to His promise of salvation and I pray for His healing presence to cast away the demons that afflict my body and spirit. I earnestly seek His healing touch and I believe it will come my way in accordance with His plan and purpose in my life. Amen.

P.S. For those who want to help me find more time in this world, my gcash account is 09214532790. To use a popular tiangge slogan – ur prayers are good but i also accept cash. Salamat gid.