True love never dies, it lives on in the people who believe in it.

Rowden and Leizl planned their wedding date  on July 8, 2014, Rowden’s 30th birthday. Together with their adorable 2-year-old daughter, they already had a perfect family and a wedding was just needed to seal their future. Alas, the date had to be moved at an earlier date.

In the youtube channel of Chef Hasset Go,  he explained that “Rowden got diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer in late May. His last request was to marry his one true love. After 12hours of preparations, his dream was fulfilled. Unable to take him outside the hospital, we brought the church to him. It was like a heartbreaking fairytale.”

Rowden Go Pangcoga

The wedding took place in the Philippine General Hospital with close friends and relatives. As I watched the video, I was hopeful.

wedding that will touch you

But Rowden Go Pangcoga, who was only 29-years-old, passed away on June 11, 2014, less than 10 hours after their wedding. He is survived by his wife Leizel May, daughter Zakiah Rowzel, mother Lorelei, and brothers Hasset & Hisham.

As I watched the video the second time, the tears could not stop falling. I did not cry when I first saw the video because I was not aware that he would die that soon. Even though cancer struck two of my family members , I can only imagine the pain of his family. There is always hope even when others have given up.

When the reality hits , I can only offer this same prayer that I offered to my brother.

God saw you getting tired,
And a cure was not to be,
So He put his arms around you,
And whispered “Come to Me”
With tearful eyes we watched you suffer,
And saw you fall away.
Although we couldn’t bear to lose you,
We could not ask you to stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
Hardworking hands laid to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
That He only takes the best.

Then I know that love never dies.

love never dies

Screencaps from Hasset Go Youtube channel. Some rights reserved.

This is a touching speech of my sister, the Vice Mayor of a city in the US about life and survival of cancer . The speech was delivered during a fund raising event for Cancer patients: Relay for Life, (American Cancer Society) . My mother died of breast cancer when she was only 45 years old while my brother died of Leukemia at 40 years old. This is for all the survivors and the families of those who have succumbed to the ravages of Cancer

Relay for Life Speech, June 29, 2013

vice mayor

We are here today because we all have been touched by cancer. Whether we are survivors or we have witnessed a loved one succumb to the ravages of cancer. We are here today as a community because as the saying goes, ““When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.”

My mother died from breast cancer when I was sixteen. She was 45 years old.

My brother, Oscar, passed away after three years of struggling with leukemia in 1999. He was only 40 years old.

The beauty of cancer (if you can call it that) is that you have time to say goodbye.

What I remember most during the moments when my mother and brother realized the full impact that their lives would be ending soon was how they mourned for the things they could never experience. My mother wept as she said, ““I can never hold a grandchild in my arms.”

My brother, Oscar, mournfully said, ““What I fear most is that I will be forgotten.”

Oscar was lucky to have found a bone marrow match (our sister, Belen) and the stem cell transplant was done on Thanksgiving Day in 1998. I was there to hold his hand and tell him how much I loved him. I remember seeing the light of hope in his eyes as our sister’s stem cells flowed into his veins.

After the transplant, he said ““I know I will not live forever. Whether I die at 90 or if I die tomorrow, I am grateful for every moment, every day my life has been extended.”

He died 5 months later.

vice mayor 1

This is why we celebrate, remember, and fight back. We celebrate the healing and survivorship of those among us.

We remember and honor the memories of those who have passed on and treasure the moments we had shared with them.

But we will not sit in self-pity and despair. We, all of us here, are fighters. With American Cancer Society, we will fight back by raising funds in a fun day to help find a cure for cancer so that one day, we will be free at last from the C-word.

cancer survivors
Opening Ceremony of the Relay For Life with Cancer Survivors on stage