Zoey Taberna may be battling leukemia at a young age but she remains a source of inspiration for her parents, news anchor Anthony Taberna and Rossel Velasco.
Velasco admitted they are amazed at the courage of their daughter, who had her hair shaved ahead of her chemotherapy sessions, as she battles her illness.
“Siya pa ‘yung malakas. Siya ‘yung matapang. Siya ‘yung lumalaban,” Velasco said in an interview on Toni Gonzaga’s online Sunday talk show “I Feel U.”
“So, nakakahiya naman sa amin bilang mga magulang na sa amin pa makikita ang kahinaan kung ang anak namin is a fighter.”
Despite initially struggling to accept their 12-year-old daughter’s condition, Taberna and his wife have since learned to let this challenge strengthen their family.
“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,” Taberna said.
The two admitted they tried to keep their eldest child’s illness as secret for a while, noting that she was too young to know. Zoey was then 11 years old.
Rossel admitted that, at first, they were in denial, remembering how difficult it was to tell her daughter about her real condition.
“‘Pag nasa harap kami ni Zoe, alam mo naman si Ka Tunying, very jolly, so ‘yun lang pinapakita namin sa kanya, gano’n lang namin pinapakita sa kanya. Pero kaming dalawa, hindi namin alam kung paano ipu-put together. Tumigil talaga ‘yung mundo, literal,” she said.
As a mother, she reached the point of blaming herself for not knowing what Zoey was experiencing.
“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,” Velasco said.
But Taberna now sees their situation on a positive note -- a reason for their family to be closer to God.
“Financially, career-wise, 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,’” Taberna said.
“Ayaw Niya lumayo ka sa Kanya, so ‘yung problema na pinagdaanan namin ‘yun ‘yung ginamit Niya para lumapit kami sa Kanya. Ayun, naging normal na na araw-araw nagpe-pray kami as a family,” he added.
Zoey was first diagnosed with leukemia in December 2019.