Miriam Santiago: I have lung cancer

Healthy lifestyle but…

Calling her condition “strange,” Santiago said she was diagnosed with cancer despite having a healthy lifestyle. She said her doctors attributed her illness to “genetic mutation.”

She joked that “giving trouble to my colleagues at work” caused her cancer but turned serious when she said her doctors are also unsure about the cause.

“These doctors don’t have any clue just like my chronic fatigue syndrome, which is related to my cancer now. Right now, with cancer I feel just like I did when I had chronic fatigue syndrome. They don’t know what causes it because I don’t smoke and my husband doesn’t smoke."

Santiago said she is seeking medical treatment but via long distance. She said her oncologist is the “number one lung cancer specialist” based in Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. The specialist works with her sister, who is also a medical doctor.

“This tablet is a sort of magic tablet so I don’t have to take anything, just take the tablet and in effect, it will give me all the benefits of chemotherapy without the side effects. So I hope to be able to see you in 6 weeks fully cured of cancer and you will probably feel even envious of my status because if will give me gravitas if I talk to people about cancer.”

Yet she later said it may take 6 months for the results of the treatment to be known.

“After 6 months, by this tablet, they’re expecting that the mass or the tissue will simply degenerate, meaning to say it will just shrink by itself and it will no longer be there but if it does not do that, that means things have gotten worse. I have to go to Cedars-Sinai, which to me is a source of great grief, because it’s a very expensive hospital.”

Santiago said her doctors told her that she will not experience the ill effects of chemotherapy.

“Unlike before when everybody was so terrified of chemotherapy because your hair will fall off, you don’t have energy to talk or move your body but apparently, people can get along with this magic tablet and they can act.”

In the Philippines, Santiago said her doctors are former health secretary and cardiologist Esperanza Cabral of St Luke’s Medical Center, and pulmonologist Ruth Marie Divinagracia of Makati Medical Center.

Santiago said her doctors “took nearly two cups of blood from my lungs.”

GOD'S HANDS. Santiago says, 'God never asks us for an opinion. God just goes ahead and does whatever is in his hands.' Photo by Romeo Bugante/Senate PRIB

GOD'S HANDS. Santiago says, 'God never asks us for an opinion. God just goes ahead and does whatever is in his hands.

' Photo by Romeo Bugante/Senate PRIB

‘I can still work’

Santiago said her doctors assured her that she can still continue her Senate work. The senator though only attended a handful of sessions since the start of the 16th Congress because of her chronic fatigue syndrome.

Asked about her doctor’s advice, she said, “Well he said because I am notorious in the international community for doing my own thing, he’s not going to give me any advice that I’m going to disregard anyway.”

Despite the grim announcement, Santiago carried on with her signature humor.

“My husband said, ‘Go to the United States’ and I said, ‘Are you thinking you’re lucky? Ano ka sinuswerte?’”

Santiago said she informed her nonagenarian mother about her condition. “My mother said, ‘Well, everyone has to go some time.”

We wish senator Miriam good health and possibly recovery from the cancer she disclosed today, GET WELL PO. Ma'am!! — Sonny Angara (@sonnyangara) July 2, 2014

With all the reactions to her illness, Santiago was most energetic discussing her own.

“I’m very excited. I’m not kidding. I said, ‘Yes, I got cancer!’ Because now I’m entering another dimension of human life. That has always been my attitude.’” 

The senator with a masters degree in theology turned spiritual. “God never asks us for an opinion. God just goes ahead and does whatever is in his hands. I just say okay.” – Rappler.com