Instead of attending online classes and answering school modules like her fellow teenagers, Janella Dapusala has painfully spent much of her time lying in a hospital bed and undergoing chemotherapy as she battles Stage 3 ovarian cancer at the age of 16.
“Iniisip ko po yung sakit ko, bakit ako pa sa dami ng tao sa mundo,” said Dapusala, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last October 2020, in a sit-down interview with host Toni Gonzaga.
But despite the biggest hurdle, by far, in her life, the senior high school student in Mandaluyong is keeping her faith to God.
“Hindi po [ako nagalit kay God]. Sabi ko kay God, ‘Alam ko may maganda Kang plano sa akin, kaya nagtitiwala po ako sa ‘Yo.’ Sabi ko sa sarili ko na ginagawa lang ‘to ni God kasi alam ko na pagtapos nitong pagsubok na ‘to, may premyo ako,” Dapusala quipped.
In the interview, the young cancer patient recalled her ordeal when she first experienced extreme abdominal pain in September last year while doing a home workout.
“Nagwo-workout po ako nun kasi sobrang taba ko. [I was] 62 kgs. Tapos sumakit po 'yung ano ko, abdominal pain. Akala ko part lang ng pagwo-workout ‘yung [sakit], kaya sabi ko kay mama, ‘Okay lang, ‘wag mo na ipa-check up.’ Sobrang sakit po niya, halos hindi ako makatayo. Then mabilis din po ako mapagod,” Dapusala recounted.
But the pain became intolerable by October, forcing her mother to bring her to hospital.
“Akala po [nila] buntis ako. Sobrang laki po kasi ng tiyan ko. ‘Yung bukol po kasi 28 centimeters. Pero [negative] po yung sa pregnant,” she continued.
Dapusala then underwent an ultrasound test and CT-Scan. After three days, she received the grim news: a mass was found in her left ovary and turned to be malignant.
After the operation, the doctors advised her to proceed immediately to chemotherapy for 28 sessions.
Although she sometimes fears the worst, Dapusala, who turned 16 in November, is not backing down.
“Kapag mag-isa naiisip ko po yung sakit ko. Baka ganito yung mangyari, ganon. Hindi ko kayanin pag dumating na yung sobrang hirap. Bigla na lang pong sumusulpot e. Wala naman pong gagawin, iiyak lang ako. Tapos magdadasal, tas laban ulit,” said Dapusala, who watches K-pop group BTS's videos and vlogs to ease her worry.
Dapusala, who also dreams to be an architect, acknowledged she sometimes thought of giving up but she knew she had to fight for her family, her motivation to keep her life longer.
“Kapag nasa ospital po ako tas sobrang nakakaramdam ako ng sakit, minsan sinisigaw kong ayoko na, pagod na ko...Iniisip ko na lang na nandyan naman sila para makasama sila ng matagal pa. Kailangan malakas ka,” said Dapusala, whose father is in jail on illegal drugs.
Dapusala went viral after she tweeted photos of her with shaved hair and a caption, “cancer ka lang maganda ako.”
According to her, she started to lose her hair during her first chemo sessions in January, which prompted her to just shave it all at once.
“Natatawa po. Tinatawanan ko po yung sarili ko. Kasi para sa akin hindi naman po yung buhok yung magdidikta ng kagandahan mo. Para sakin, maganda pa rin ako,” she said.