Fighting for the dream

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

IT IS the month of March and millions of young Filipinos from elementary to college are graduating. Unfortunately, some who did not perform well will not be taking the stage. There are also some who will not be graduating because their health prevented them.

Though stricken with cancer, a child full with hopes and dreams strived hard to finish her elementary schooling.

Meet Noemilyn "Mimi" M. Semeniego, 12, diagnosed with stage 2 Osteosarcoma, a common type of bone cancer. On Thursday, Mimi, despite having an amputated right leg, graduated from elementary at the Dumanlas Elementary School.


Mimi has been undergoing cancer treatment for more than a year now. She and her mother, who are from Polomolok, South Cotabato, are staying at the House of Hope at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).
Undergoing cancer treatment is no easy task, patients usually feel tired after chemotherapy sessions.

However, the chemotherapy and Mimi's condition did not stop her from getting her needed education at her age. Through the Hospital Bound Education Program of the Davao Children's Cancer Fund Inc. (DCCFI), in cooperation with the University of Southeastern Philippine, Dumanlas Elementary School, and Sped Bangkal, Mimi was able to continue with her studies.

A teacher visits her every day to teach her the subjects. Mimi said she enjoys learning new things and studying.

"My favorite subjects are math and English," she said. Mimi likes art the least because she does not life drawing.

Mimi admits that there are times when she has a hard time studying because she feels tired.

In a separate interview, Dr. Mae Dolendo, head of the pediatric-oncology department of SPMC, said the prognosis of Mimi is good. This means the young fighter can grow up and achieve her dreams.

"I dream of becoming a teacher," Mimi said. She said she wants to reach out and help children.

Aside from graduating from elementary, she will also be graduating from her treatment. Her parents plan to enroll her at Silway-8 National High School when they return to Polomolok.

For this school year, Mimi is the only one graduating but there are 15 others who will be moving up the ladder. At the beginning of school year 2013-2014, there were 34 of them who were enrolled in the program unfortunately ten were retained due to their health issues and five passed away.

Dr. Dolendo said they see Mimi and the 15 other children's progress as a big achievement.

Consider yourself lucky if you have already finished all the levels of the country's education system. But if you are still lounging around and hoping to at least to pass the school year or you simply don't like school, think of Mimi and the 33 other children who are with cancer. Not all of them will reach their dreams, but they are determined to take the steps to move forward even without an assurance of tomorrow.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 29, 2014.


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