Miarmy L. de Leon – Region VII

I am Miarmy L. de Leon, a happy wife, a proud mother of two, a licensed professional teacher, and a DSTB survivor.

I always overlooked my health before, it never came in my mind to set it as a priority, not until I experienced the most horrible evening I ever had. 

Wayback January 2016, I gave birth to my second child.  Since I was the breadwinner of the family, I had to resume going to work a week after giving birth. I worked as a part-time instructor in a university from morning until evening. To cut the story short, my world was only focused on becoming a teacher, a mother, and a wife everyday. I had sleepless nights taking care of my baby and preparing for tomorrow’s lessons. I noticed I lost weight, and thought of it as a result of always skipping meals. I noticed I had been coughing for months, and thought of it as a result of inhaling the pollutants along the highway everyday. I noticed I had low-grade fever and chills at night, but thought of it as a result of the stressful work everyday. I never went for a check-up, for I only thought of completing the things to be done for work to be able to put food on our table. I really thought that everything was just a normal reaction of my body towards stress. I really thought that everything would soon be fine, until one horrible evening came. On April 28, 2016 at exactly 11:30 in the evening, I was busy giggling with my 3-month old baby when I suddenly coughed up a lot of blood. Yes, a lot of bubbly fresh blood. When I was rushed into the hospital, the doctor prescribed me to take hemostan to stop or lessen the blood being coughed up while they did examinations such as chest x-ray and sputum test. It was the only time I knew I had pulmonary tuberculosis. I was isolated for three days in the hospital, depressed, hopeless, and felt like a vegetable- alive but couldn’t do anything. By the time I was discharged from the hospital, I thought that dealing with the treatment would be better, but that was not what happened. I knew I had to resign from my work as it was recommended by the doctor, and I did. I knew I needed a support system, so I longed for it. I knew I needed all the good thoughts from my family and friends, but that was not what I had. My family prohibited me from telling my friends about my condition for they believed that I would look abominable to others. It was instilled in me that everyone would be distant to me and to my family if they knew I had tuberculosis. I dealt with all the side effects of the medication without telling anyone, except my doctor and my husband. I got courage in taking the pills everyday by looking at my kids. I got strength in going through my treatment by talking to God every night and lifting up to Him whatever I went through each day. Successfully, I finished my PTB treatment for 9 months. 

After treatment, I went back to the institution I worked for and got the chance to be hired again. I thought my life would really go back to normal, but it wasn’t.  I had panic attacks whenever I was alone. I had an anxiety disorder that even toothache made me think it would kill me. Whenever I walked for a short distance, I always felt like I was running out of air and that it would possibly kill me. I was rushed to the hospital several times for I always thought that every single thing I felt would kill me. Surprisingly, all of the laboratory results were fine so the doctor told me that I was also fine. He then suggested that keeping myself busy would prevent the negative thoughts from coming into my mind. So yes, I worked as a part-time teacher in different institutions, but that didn’t mean I got rid of panic attacks. I still experienced it but not as often as before. After three years of dealing with such, I decided to accept the truth that I had tuberculosis and nothing’s the same anymore.

I learned to open about my journey with tuberculosis to some of my close friends and to some people who were dealing with tuberculosis not just to free-up my mind from locked sorrows, but also to help give courage to those who were hopeless with the disease. That was the time I decided to search on facebook for tuberculosis support groups, and I was lucky to have found TB People Philippines Support Group. Through this organization, I was given the chance to be of help to tuberculosis patients in whatever ways possible. I would never want tb patients to feel what I felt, to experience what I experienced, and to be on the same path I walked for. 

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease, and people should not become hopeless about having it.  In fact,you can’t have tuberculosis for a lifetime, for it can be cured if treated correctly. Having it is somehow a training period for coming up with a lot of strategies on addressing problems, and it will help you consider changing how you feel about a problem.

Being a DSTB survivor is rewarding, it becomes my eye-opener to realize that what we decide must not only limit for the benefit of ourselves. I learn to empathize with others. Just like what the scripture says from Luke 6:31, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you”.

One more lesson I learned from my TB journey that I want to quote is that, “If you do not do something to make yourself healthy, then you are surely doing something to make yourself ill”.

Background of Miarmy L. de Leon, TB Survivor of Cebu

More videos of Miarmy:

Miarmy on ‘What is DSTB?’ Part 1

Miarmy on ‘What is DSTB?’ Part 2

Miarmy on ‘What is DSTB?’ Part 3

Miarmy on ‘What is DSTB?’ Part 4

Miarmy on ‘What is DSTB?’ Part 5