It takes an illness to know who your true friends are—and for the recently wed Red Lozano and Ghie Columna Lozano, who tied the knot civilly on July 8 in Singapore, where they both work, their “friends” include anonymous individuals and total strangers willing to help without expecting anything in return.
Diagnosed with an aggressive form of chronic myeloid leukemia (in its acute phase), Red, 37, started chemotherapy on June 25, 2021, and requires a bone marrow transplant. The latter is critical to his full recovery, as there is a high chance of relapse without it. (Read the full details of his condition here.)
The total cost of treatment: SG$350,000—about P12,961,124.
Family and friends sprung into action to raise the money through raffles and bake-for-a-cause fundraisers. Ghie, 34, also received support from GIVE.asia, Asia’s leading free fundraising platform for fundraisers to raise money for their causes. As of this writing, 818 Givers have contributed to the SG$80,655 raised so far by the Lozanos through GIVE.asia and offline efforts. (Read:
“I believe he deserves our help,” wrote one anonymous donor. “Let’s pray that God will grant him a great chance to survive that big challenge in his life.”
“I myself is [sic] a cancer survivor,” wrote another anonymous donor. “Same as Red, some type of leukemia. ACUTE PROMYELOCYTIC LEUKAEMIA, I was diagnosed here in Singapore last Dec 2009 at NUH. I was undergone [sic] chemotherapy in the Philippines. It’s been 11 yrs already. Get well Red.”
“We are proud to be able to support those in need of urgent fundraising for medical care through Giveasia Kindness,” says Dennis Yeo, Chief of Kindness at Giveasia Kindness. “When Red’s situation was brought to us, we worked with him and his wife to quickly establish their needs, walk them through our verification processes, recraft their story, and publish their campaign. Our team will now support Red and his wife as they continue to fundraise through content development, marketing, and community support. The campaign will run until the target has been reached. There are many other fundraising campaigns running for other individuals in need which can be found at GIVE.asia. We thank our whole community for giving to this, and all our campaigns.” (Read: Pope Francis grants cancer survivor’s wish with papal kiss)
My Pope spoke to Ghie about where Red is now in his treatment, the invaluable support of GIVE.asia, and the impact of this challenging time on her and her husband.
How is Red doing now?
The treatment of AML has 2 phases: the Induction Phase, where intensive chemotherapy is done, and the Consolidation Phase, which involves the long-term goal of bone marrow transplant. He is still in the Induction phase.
The doctors have not delved into details as to when is his bone marrow transplant will be done as they are focusing on Red to be in remission first during this Induction Phase. We are, however, trying to get his family to go for the HLA typing to see who is a match for Red so we can quickly get a donor.
How did you come to know of Cancer Warriors and GIVE.asia and how have they helped you so far?
Three hundred fifty thousand Singapore Dollars (over Php12M) for his chemo and bone marrow transplant is a large sum for us and our resources are not enough to fund his treatment. We thought that his personal insurance has an annual benefit limit of SG$225,000, but it turned out there is a cap of SG$1,500 per admission. This amount could not even foot 1% of his bill. Treatment in the Philippines is not an option, given the COVID-19 situation there. With Red’s current condition, he might not stand a chance. (Read: 3 Ways to Support a Loved One Diagnosed With Cancer)
I came to know GIVE.asia through a colleague. She received a Whatsapp link from a Filipino couple here in Singapore who have been crowdfunding through GIVE.asia since March 2021 for their twins. Their goal is SG$500,000 and after four months of campaigning they are now 50% towards their goal. This gave me a glimmer of hope; there are a lot of kind-hearted people who are willing to help despite this pandemic. I immediately contacted GIVE.asia and they were very accommodating and helpful. They reply fast and are very patient when it comes to all my queries. GIVE.asia is heaven-sent for people like us whose finances are not enough to save our loved ones.
What do you think of the support that GIVE.asia’s donors (many of them anonymous and strangers) have extended to you?
I am so amazed with how generous and kind-hearted humanity is despite this COVID-19 situation and despite them not knowing Red personally. We are so thankful that majority of them are touched and moved by Red’s story. Our hearts are full.
How are you holding up? How has this affected your relationship as a couple?
It is hard to find out that your loved one, most especially your loving husband, has cancer. You have a lot of what ifs. What if we caught the disease much sooner? He would have been in a chronic stage, which is easier to manage without having to get a bone marrow transplant. What if I checked his insurance coverage? Then we won’t have any issues with our finances. What if we went for a health screening last December? But because we were both busy, I let it pass.
But my faith is greater than my what if’s and I was reminded of my favorite verse, Joshua 1:9:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I find solace in His words. I know that God is testing us because a faith that is not tested is a faith that could not be trusted. I know that He will walk with us during this season of our lives and I know that He is a God of Miracles. (Read: Don’t believe in miracles? These five stories will change your mind!)
I always believe that there is only one thing God can’t do, and that is to undo His promises for you. His promise is for Red to be healed. For Red to be in remission for the rest of his life! His promise is for us to raise the amount that we need for his bone marrow transplant!
Each passing day, things are becoming lighter as I look forward to that day when my husband is free of cancer! I am just so lucky to have my two siblings here in Singapore. We are surrounded by family, friends, and even strangers, helping us in these trying times.
What have you become because of this challenging time?
One of my first realizations, when I found out about Red’s condition, is that we are not the first to feel this way and we won’t be the last. While our experiences are unique and different from one another, in the grand scheme of things, there are people who have endured far worse and survived.
There are two sides to life, positive or negative. It’s a matter of perspective. I choose to be the former. I firmly believe that when I am positive, it not only makes me feel better, but it also makes those around me better. (Read: 3 Powerful Prayers for Strength and Positivity)
This challenging time made me resilient. It made me feel grateful for everything that I have, big or small. I learn how to surrender, how to lay my weak hands in God’s strong ones. With God beside us, nothing can be against us!