4:30 AM, Room 755, Makati Medical Center. I seem to be suffering from too much sleep with this 10-day mandatory vacation given to me. So at 4:00AM, I am already awake still trying to get some more sleep. I guess this is better than trying to get some sleep after being awake all night because of the discomfort bought by tubes attached to you.

“Now that you’re out of my life I’m so much better… I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it, I will survive, keep on surviving!”

That Destiny’s Child song pops in my head and it wakes me up some more. It made me think of the events leading to this 10-day forced vacation and how I survived it. This is like the greatest race of my life or should I say FOR my life. So I got out of my hospital bed, got my laptop and started writing. Lets put it in running terms for fun.

Pre-Race (Building Mileage)

How did it start? Where did you get it? Why did that happen? Common questions asked when people found out I was diagnosed with cancer. Well, it started with a sore under my tongue (left side) back in January. I can’t remember how I got it but it just appeared there. I went to my dentist to have it checked and he gave me Rowa Gel. I used the gel but don’t think it was working. I went to an ENT to have it checked and she tole me that it seem that it is my tooth that is causing it. The ENT told me that she can’t do anything about it and that my dentist may have a solution. I asked her that I wanted to be sure that it was there because of other things but the tooth so she examined my neck and told me that there were no indications of that wound appearing there because of other things.

Tapering (Getting Ready for Race Day)

A held on to that assurance of the ENT and continued the gel treatment. But I noticed that the wound is getting bigger observed some growth in the area making it difficult for me to eat food with nuts. I was scheduled to leave for Australia end of August to attend trainings. With the worsening condition of my tongue, I decided to see a dentist. I had a chance to consult with an oral surgeon who seem so concerned and told me to see an Oncologist to have it biopsied. He assured me that there are no other growths related to it in my neck.

What? See an Oncologist before going to Australia? The Oncologist might not let me go so I forgot that I was sick first and went to Australia. I was thinking that if I die, at least I can say that I have already been to Australia.

Race Day (Before Gun Start)

The first working day of my return from Australia, I went to an Oncologist who referred me to an ENT to have the thing in my tongue biopsied. I would be walking from Makati medical to my office with additional worry lines in my face. “What is wrong with you? You look like you want to cry.” My boss asked me. “Well, I went for a check-up and tomorrow I will be having a biopsy.” So the worry lines was shared in the office.

MRI, Blood tests, Biopsy. Just like warm-up, stretch, and hydration before the gun start. With the tests and procedures done, I am ready for the operation. I was just waiting for the results of the Biopsy.

Gun Start!

Results of the MRI showed that there were no related mass or cysts found in my neck area. Biopsy results showed that I had stage 1 cancer. At this point, only very close friends and family knew what was happening to me. I went to my cousin’s place and told him the news, broke down a bit and discussed logistics when I get the schedule of the operation.

When I got my schedule, that was when I informed my sister and Nanay about the situation (I deliberately did not tell them that it was cancer for them not to worry). Filed for a leave and hang out with friends (some knew, some didn’t) some more to tell them what happened or to just hang out without telling them.

I got operated at around 3:00 PM October 11, 2011. I lost almost half of my tongue and had some stitched in my neck where nodules were also removed. My room was always visited by friends.

Finish Line!

Today, I will be going home after this 10-day forced vacation. I survived cancer and my doctor tells me that there are no traces in what is left of my tongue and in the nodules removed from my neck. thank you friends and family for making me feel loved. Thank you for praying with me and keeping it positive.

This is the sweetest finish for me. I have scars on my neck instead of a medal and a loot bag of happy thought of friends’ messages full of love.


About Kit Atienza

A researcher/runner/triathlete/cancer survivor who found himself in the world of development work. He enjoys, reflects, and rants about things while doing his job, improving his personal record in running distances, and training for the IronMan in 2016.
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12 Responses to Survivor

  1. Tats says:

    wow! i never realized you were going through something till I read about it. Congratulations for a race well run. See you around in other future but more literal races at wherever we bump into each other. This one is definitely inspirational! Stay healthy sir Kit!

  2. tin2joy says:

    God bless you, Kit! I admire your spirit. Keep running! 🙂

  3. Rejie says:

    This is one of the best testaments of your life Sir Kit! You’ll always be my personal inspiration when it comes to running and facing through life challenges. Kudos, Sir Kit, Kudos!

  4. cindy francisco says:

    hi kit! i read just now what you have gone through, and i know it wasn’t easy. but knowing how steadfast you are, i’m proud of you for not giving in to this challenge. take it easy and always take care! i’ll see you next week at IAEA!

  5. Kit Atienza says:

    Thanks guys! Yeah we always have to stay positive at all times. Its a better way of seeing the world.
    TATS: Its been a long time since I last saw you running. Your HOB misses you already.
    CINDY: I gave up the chairing part of the conference but will still present my paper. Practising my spiel now 😀 Looking forward to having a chat with Robert Sternberg.

  6. DIDAY says:

    I’m so glad you’re well now sir Kit! You truly are a SURVIVOR and an inspiration! I’ll pray for you complete recovery, stay positive and strong! Salamat sa pangungumusta ha…Keep running! 🙂 Keep smiling! 🙂 Keep in touch!

  7. tonia says:

    sir kit!!wooowwww!!! your an inspiration:)glad your ok. now.thank you for sharing the link. :))

  8. FFS says:

    Hey buddy! I was really happy about this news! God is good 🙂

  9. Kit Atienza says:

    This Blog entry was published in DLS-CSB’s Vantage Magazine. Here’s the link to the e-copy:

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  12. Cay Agustin says:

    It was 3 years ago, but the fight that you have fought…is really admirable! I never thought that you have faced squarely that dreaded sickness, eventually kicked it off your way to continue running for the victory that you are aiming. You inspire me to be braver…..:-)

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