we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, his return to life after
his crucifixion. A recapturing of life happens in many ways. It happened
for the disciples when they were able to see and relate to Christ
in a new way. It happened when they were able to let go of their expectations
of a political Messiah and to recognize their savior in a crucified
criminal. Many people find that the practice of meditation brings
them to freedom and to new perspectives that make life's energies
of the most remarkable real life resurrection stories that I have
encountered lately has been that of Sister Teresita M. "Titz"
Felisa M.S.M. She was born in 1947 and grew up in Mindanao, one of
the most southern islands of the Philippines. In spite of a history
of bad health all her life, she was able to join the Missionary Sisters
of Mary (M.S.M.) in Butuan City. She was used to sickness but was
thoroughly shaken when, in 1990, the bad news that she had Lupus,
the sickness associated with the late President Marcos, was broken
to her. "I could not forget that day in Manila" she told
me "when the results of the tests were given to me. It was on
Holy Tuesday that I learned that I had Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
(SLE) or, Lupus, for short. My heart, lungs and kidneys were affected.
As if it was the end of the world for me. I cried and cried. I asked
my Superior that I go home to die but my community pledged to support
me in all aspects - spiritual, moral and financial, even if we were
not financially stable at that time. I felt like I had Good Friday
even on Easter Sunday. I quarreled with God. Why was this sickness
given to me? Then I bargained with him that I be given this sickness
only after 20 years when I was already old!
months after my diagnosis I went back to Butuan. I abandoned myself
to God whatever would happen. My breathing was very slow and my body
was bloated from my face to my feet. Everyone who saw me showed a
face of compassion at my condition. I joined in a retreat to prepare
for a happy death. My retreat master suggested an anointing on the
last day and I welcomed the idea. It was meant as a final act of total
acceptance. Many sisters came to attend the mass at which I was anointed.
During it I thanked the Lord, my family and my congregation for everything.
Everybody in the chapel cried with me. But after the mass I felt a
pleasant warmth all over my body. I slept soundly that evening and
next morning woke up feeling refreshed.
that I quickly became well enough to go to Cebu to meet Dr. Joseph
M. Antigua, MD, FPCP, a new doctor who had been recommended to me.
He showed interest and delight in seeing me. He was God's instrument
in giving me hope and meaning in my condition. He shared with me his
plans to organize lupus patients for continuing education and for
moral, spiritual and psychological support. The following year the
Lupus Association of Cebu was formed with nine members and I was elected
president. In our bi-monthly meetings we learned so much about the
disease and how to cope with it. At present I am on remission and
am taking no medicines. I had been on steroids from 1986 to September
if I can't go back to our usual apostolate I can be a wounded healer
to my co-lupus patients. I am credible to them since I have the same
experience as them. I have appeared on Television and Radio to talk
about our organization. Last 1993 I was sent to the 4th ASEAN Congress
on Rheumatology, in Singapore, to share on our Cebu Lupus Association,
which was founded even before Manila's. All of these activities have
kept me busy and directed my attention from myself to others.
sometimes it is too much and I fall back into depression and become
subject to an attack or flare-up as it is called. I realized that
at times I overdo it in reaching out to others and I had to talk this
out with my doctor. I expressed my feeling that I want to be accepted
as I am - still vulnerable to pain, to depression and to the need
to gain strength from others. I can't be always the one giving.
cycle of dying and rising in my life continues and it has given color
to my living. If we have the "why's" to live, then we can
survive the "hows."
May your tribe increase, Titz, and may you continue to pass on your
new life to others!