Martin Baldo is diagnosed with Pre B Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (Pre B ALL) at an early age. When they found out he has cancer, his parents chose to be transparent with him about the doctor’s findings. They carefully discussed with him the lifestyle changes and treatment protocols that came with the diagnosis in a language a boy his age would understand.
The effects of his blood condition were tumultuous. For the first six months of his diagnosis, Martin had to undergo various treatments to help him regain the strength of his lower limbs and be able to walk again. At first it was not easy for Martin to accept that he couldn’t do many of the usual activities a young boy would do. This was not only because of the hectic schedule of treatments but also because his doctors did not approve of him being exposed to a huge crowd in a closed space.
At the beginning of Grade 4, he had to be absent every so often for his chemotherapy sessions. His favorite subject in school is P.E., and ironically he was not allowed to engage in any strenuous activities. When in school, he is advised to take his recess and lunch at the office of Assistant Principal Mrs. Dahilan; and Ate Inday (his loyal sitter) looks after him and make sure that he takes his daily medications. During the time he was on home study; the school provided materials and lessons to be done so he can cope up with the lessons he missed. In the second semester of Grade 6, with leukemia affecting his eyes, he experienced temporary loss of sight.
Despite missed lessons due to his absences, it was a dream for Martin to graduate with his batch mates this year. His dream became a reality when he graduated last March 2017. His parents couldn’t help but cry when he went up the stage to receive his diploma and when amid the loud applause, someone from the crowd said, “Martin gives a strong message that we all have to keep on pursuing our dreams no matter what.”
Martin is well-loved by his batch mates. His friends do not treat him differently because he also made them feel that he is just like any of them. He never wanted any special treatment but one would see that his friends also take good care of him. Being an only child, Martin’s exposure to friendships and relationships are his classmates from K-1 to his batch mates in Grade 6 who were all ecstatically waving & cheering when they saw Martin joining them for graduation.
Martin is currently receiving intensification phase of chemotherapy in various forms ranging from an array of pills, series of intravenous injections, intramuscular therapy, subcutaneous treatments, and spinal injections. Aside from these treatments, he has daily supplements to help his body endure the aggressive chemotherapy protocol and a weekly acupuncture treatment to alleviate unwanted side-effects of his medical treatments.
There are days where Martin is able to join in family activities such as cooking, baking or playing music and doing simple art projects. Participating in activities provides him some sense of normalcy and gives him strength to go on with his treatment plan. As exercise, he does swimming once a week or more as his schedule and physical condition would allow. Their family also goes travelling; they go to the beach, out of town or on short trips abroad to give Martin something to look forward to in between his chemotherapy sessions.
He wants to be a restaurateur someday, which was inspired during one of his classroom activities back in Grade 5 when they were asked to have a small group and make their own menu for their hypothetical restaurant. From then on, Martin always talks about how he would put up a restaurant called, “Legit Cookers” with his classmates. He also likes car racing and in the future, he dreams to be a race car driver on weekends.
With his condition, Martin continuously exhibits affection and care towards his family and to everyone he encounters at home, hospital or in school. Martin’s love for LSGH is definitely a big component on how he deals with the daily challenges brought about by this diagnosis.
Despite the strength and inspiration he shows while facing this life changing diagnosis, Martin needs help and prayers. His family, teachers, classmates and friends request those who read this post to pray for him on his journey to full recovery. Let us continue to pray for Martin for healing, cure and clarity of vision.
“Being brave doesn’t mean you’re NOT scared; it means moving on even though you’re very scared.”
– Martin Baldo
This article first appeared at www.lsgh.edu.ph