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Troubles, Epiphanies and Giving Back

An epiphany may come after an admission of a struggle. It happens when a person realizes that certain actions need to be taken, and that these actions may be necessary to change the situation at hand.

Such is the case of Vivian Esquierdo, a 36-year-old diabetic, who used her condition as a tool to live her life better, with objectives and goals she wished to achieve. Vivian’s baffle with diabetes started during her pre-adolescent years, although she has forgotten how young she was when she developed the condition.

What she cannot forget was how sullen and depressed she felt during those times. “Lagi akong nagkuku/ong sa kwarto noon, nalulungkot talaga ako, at nagtatanong ako kay Lord, ‘Bakit ako?” she recalls. She also remembers how her family used to worry about her.”Yung tatay ko naninibago noon kasi hindi naman ako dating ganun. Hindi na ako nagiging masayahin, lagi akong nagsusungit!”

But then there came a time that she had to be hospitalized because of the condition. Being confined and bedridden, she felt like she was becoming a burden for her family.”Nahihiya ako sa mga magulang ko noon, kasi nga dahil may sakit ako, kailangan pa nilang isipin kung saan silo kukuha ng pera pangpagamot ko. Umiiyak na noon ang nanay ko madalas.”

And so, one afternoon, when she was able to walk inside the hospital premises, she went to one corner of the room near the fire exit, and began to pray.”Nagdasal ako kay Lord noon na sana pahabain pa niya ang buhay ko, at sisikapin kong hindi maging pabigat sa mga magulang ko.”

Snapping out of depression
Little Vivian at that time reclaimed her zest for life when she joined Camp Cope, an organization which counsels diabetic kids about their condition and what they need to do about it. It was there where she met the right people, such as Dr. Augusto Litonjua and her support group made up of counselors and other young diabetics who inspired and motivated her to live. It was there, too, where she realized not to let the condition hinder her in leading and enjoying a normal life.

Becoming Superwoman
When she graduated from being a diabetic “kid-at-a-loss,” she continued to help out at Camp Cope and became one of its counselors, where she currently teaches and mentors young diabetics.”Nakukuwentuhan ko silo o nabibigyan ng advice through experience, and nakikinig silo kasi alam nilang napagdaanan ko ang mga napagdaanan nila.”

When she has the time, she also helps out at Diacare, another organization which provides medical attention and needs to indigent diabetic children, such as educating them about their condition to giving them their needed medications. Aside from this, she helps out at the office of a businessman-philanthropist who financially aids at Diacare.

Vivian’s busy-bee attitude doesn’t end there. On weekends, or when there is a scheduled party or event, she assists at her sister’s party business, and even performs as a mime at times. Not only that, everyday she wakes up as early as two in the morning to prepare breakfast which she then sells.

Although she is busy with helping other people, she doesn’t forget to take care of her own family. She currently has a 10-month-old son whom she tends to as soon as she arrives home after work. Vivian isn’t the only one in the family who has diabetes. Unfortunately, her two other brothers, (the eldest and the youngest of their brood) developed the condition as well.”Nung una, naglolokohan pa kami. Sabi ko, ‘Welcome to the family!’ Pero siyempre, sineseryoso pa rin namin. Sabi ko alagaan lang nila yung sarili nila. Watch out sa mga kinakain o iniinom.”

Giving Back
Vivian has found her ground, not only through understanding her condition, but also with the activities that she is involved with. “Isa rin kasi sa mga tanong ko noon, ano ba ang magagawa ko? Ngayon alam ko na. Gusto kong tumulong sa mga tao, at napakasarap ng pakiramdam kapag nagagawa ko iyon,” she maintains.

At Camp Cope, she found joy in counseling kids. She describes herself as an “ate” figure, who, at times, becomes strict with educating, or giving advice to kids. She often tells the kids the same things she once told herself, “Pinapalakas ko ang loob nila. Sabi ko sa kanila, Hindi dahilan ang pagkakaroon ninyo ng sakit para magmukmok. Maling pananaw na dahil diabetic kayo ay wala na kayong magagawa.”

Working at Diacare is also a passion for Vivan.”Pumupunta kami sa mga bahay ng mga indigent na mga tao. Tapos doon, tinuturuan namin sila, o binibigyan namin ng mga gamot na kailangan. Minsan, at my own expense pumupunta pa rin ako sa bahay ng iba’t ibang diabetic para matulungan sila.”

Vivian’s support and passion to help other diabetic patients has been recognized. She was given Camp Cope’s Best Senior Councilor Award for the years 2000 and 2001. Additionally, in 2008, she was awarded with the Diabetes Achiever Award, Bronze Medal for being a diabetic who, for the past 10 years, hadn’t developed any further complications.

However, more importantly than these achievements, what makes her feel complete and grounded is her capability to move forward and help herself and others in the fight against diabetes. She has found her purpose. And realizing what she has been through and where it got her, she smiles in contentment.

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