ICanServe through Football

In commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the Azkals and “rival” clubs Global FC and Kaya FC have decided to get involved with the ICanServe Foundation. The tournament took place on September 19th (Kaya vs. Global), 21st (Azkals vs. Global), and 24th (Azkals vs. Kaya), at Rizal Memorial Stadium. The proceeds will benefit ICanServe, a nonprofit that promotes early breast cancer detection through screenings in different communities and high-impact information campaigns.

I was thrilled when I first heard about the friendly games—I’ve been waiting patiently for some live football games for a while now—but I was very pleased and deeply moved when I found out that the ICanServe Foundation was involved. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women between the ages of 15 and 54, and my own mother fell into that group. She was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer when I was in high school. It was both shocking and traumatic for her, for her family and friends, and for me, her youngest son. Yes, death might be inevitable for us all, but what was difficult to accept was the fact that it would be knocking on her door so soon. That doctors could be oracle-like, prophetic figures who gave deadlines to people’s lives was, for me, a very rude awakening.

Like most cancer patients, she went through chemotherapy and bunch of other treatments that put holes in our hearts and pockets. While they were meant to get rid of the cancer cells and prolong my mom’s life, they also made her look frail and vulnerable to other illnesses. She fought for her life. She managed to survive and became an inspiration to many. She became a woman filled with wisdom. She didn’t have to tell anyone that, but we all felt it. Sick as she was, she continued to immerse herself into other people’s lives, to try to feel what we felt and tried to calm our fears and anxieties instead of letting us just feel for her. She was a strong woman, always was. She made people see death in a different light—something that can be embraced, something dark but at the same time can also make our lives richer and more meaningful. Her pain—mostly from the chemotherapy and medicines—was unbearable. It seemed like the kind of pain that sucks the life out of you until you’re dead, unless you have the ability to fight it. Once you do get past it, you just feel different. I used to see it all the time with my own eyes, but no glass of water, no good food, no words, no tears—nothing—could stop that kind of pain whenever it struck my mom. At times like that, I felt helpless before her, but when these episodes passed, she made me realize that we need some form of pain in our lives to grow as people and maybe even touch lives. In June 2009, my mother passed away. Simply put, I had mixed feelings. It will always be hard to say goodbye. Sometimes I feel like she’s just on vacation somewhere. But my mother’s life is not a tragic story; it’s a testament that any life is worth living.

It goes without saying that breast cancer should be taken seriously. It is essential that all women know the signs of breast cancer. I usually write about football, and there is a football connection here, with the Azkals, Kaya FC, and of course, Global FC, doing their part and transforming the sport into a channel for promoting breast cancer awareness. I am proud of the teams for stepping up and getting involved in this noble endeavor. One of Global FC’s objectives is to be an involved, responsible, and socially aware football club, and this, in particular, touched me on a deeply personal level. Global FC has a heart of a champion! I have never been one to talk about my mom’s death so openly, especially online, but if it can help anyone in any way, then I’m sure my mom would have wanted me to tell her story in the spirit of breast cancer awareness.