Written by Cervin P. Bariso, writer, Operation Blessing Philippines

When we are sick, we just want to stay in our bed the whole day. The simple colds will easily paralyze us from doing our daily schedule. But what if a serious disease like cancer tried to disable us to live the life we want to live? Would we allow it to win or we will try to defy its crippling pain?

For Rheza Catorze, choosing the latter was her response every day. Rheza who has six children has been fighting against cancer for three long years now. She needs to win this tough battle for her family – for their dreams and for the love she still wants to continue pouring out on them.

Rheza found shelter in her friend’s house.

Since Rheza got sick, each day has always been a challenge. It’s as if her stage 2 cancer wants to gradually steal her joy. Life must have been so hard for her when one of the strongest typhoons in 2017 hit their place on the day she had her chemotherapy. Typhoon Nina (international name: Nock-Ten) and the pain caused by her treatment brought her deep agony.

Rheza had damaged house and very fragile body. This sick woman has all the right to complain yet Rheza did not give in to what her disease has been waiting for her to do. She still did her best to be a mother to her children on the day of and after the typhoon.

She found a safe refuge for her family in the house of her friend and patiently lined- up on long queues for relief. Rheza also gathered scraps of corrugated sheet to temporarily keep her family safe after ‘Nina’ blew off the roof of her humble home.

“I had nothing to do but pray to God for the storm to stop,” Rheza said, narrating her experience during the Category 4 typhoon she described as stronger than typhoon ‘Reming’ that wrecked havoc in Bicol region in 2006.

An bus turned upside down on the street after Typhoon Nina hit the Bicol Region.

Rheza is one of the 69 families in Baybay, Tiwi, Albay who received a relief pack from Operation Blessing Philippines. After receiving her 6 kilos of rice, canned goods, and noodles, Rheza excitedly posed to the camera and expressed her thanks to Operation Blessing Philippines and to those who donated to help them recover after the typhoon.

The Catorze family is just one of the 1,043 families who received help from Operation Blessing relief operation. Our collective efforts and shared compassion have come a long way in the life of Rheza and thousands more who certainly needed to know we care. Thank you for helping us to respond quickly to disasters!