In a special episode on her YouTube channel, actress-host Toni Gonzaga sat down for an interview with Janella Dapusala, a 16-year-old girl who was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
According to Toni, she invited Janella to guest on her vlog after she encountered her story online. The latter recently went viral after sharing on Twitter photos showing her shaved head, along with the caption: "Cancer ka lang, maganda ako."
During the interview, Toni and Janella discussed her battle with ovarian cancer. Janella said it was just last September when she first experienced a sharp pain in her abdomen.
“Nagwo-workout po ako nun kasi sobrang taba ko. [I was] 62 kgs. Tapos [nagkaroon po ako ng] abdominal pain. Akala ko part lang ng pagwo-workout ‘yung [sakit], kaya sabi ko kay mama, ‘Okay lang, ‘wag mo na ipa-check up.’ Sobrang sakit po niya, halos hindi ako makatayo. Then mabilis din po ako mapagod," she said.
On October 4, the same day her grandmother died of breast cancer, Janella was rushed to the hospital due to severe abdominal pain. At the time, the attending doctor and nurses thought she was pregnant, so she was tested for pregnancy.
"Akala po [nila] buntis ako. Sobrang laki po kasi ng tiyan ko. ‘Yung bukol po kasi 28 centimeters. Pero [negative] po," she said.
"Tapos sabi, mag-ultrasound daw po ako tsaka CT-SCAN. Tapos may nakita pong mass, sa left ovary... Kailangan daw pong maoperahan agad. Masyadong delikado raw po kasi sobrang laki na," added Janella, who said the tumor in her ovary was malignant or cancerous.
According to Janella, she was supposed to undergo an operation on October 29. However, she ended up having the surgery three days earlier, on October 26.
"Hindi na po umabot kasi nung October 25 ng gabi, sumusuka na po ako. As in sobrang daming suka na. Kulay green na po siya. Ang sabi [ng doctor], pumutok na raw po kasi kaya ganun," she said.
She then underwent chemotherapy. Janella said she started her chemo sessions last January 14. "Sobrang sakit po. Namimilipit ako sa sakit," she said of her experience. "Sobrang lungkot [din], kasi makikita mo 'yung mga baby, kaedad ko, nandoon, nagi-iyakan."
Asked how she took the news that she has stage 3 ovarian cancer, Janella told Toni: “Sobrang nanghina po ako nun. Lagi akong umiiyak. Kasi sa isip ko, gusto kong mag-enjoy eh, kasi bata pa ‘ko eh. Imbis na naga-aral ako ngayon kasi online class, nandito ako sa hospital, nakahilata. Sobrang dami pong nangyari kasi nung time na inoperahan ako. Nag-stop ‘yung heartbeat ko. Ni-revive lang [ako]. Tapos na-ICU pa po ako."
According to Janella, she keeps herself distracted by listening to her favorite K-pop group BTS or bonding with her siblings so she wouldn't drown in sadness.
"[Pero may times na nalulungkot talaga ako]. Kapag mag-isa ako. [Iniisip ko] ‘yung sakit ko, na baka ganito ‘yung mangyari, hindi ko kayanin kapag dumating na ‘yung oras na sobrang hirap. Bigla na lang po siyang sumusulpot eh. Walang gagawin, iiyak lang ako tapos magdadasal, okay na. Laban ulit," she said.
While it was initially hard for her to deal with her illness, Janella said she never questioned God and never allowed her faith to waver.
“Hindi po [ako nagalit kay God]. Sabi ko kay God, ‘Alam ko may maganda Kang plano sa akin, kaya nagtitiwala po ako sa ‘Yo.’ Sabi ko sa sarili ko na ginagawa lang ‘to ni God kasi alam ko na pagtapos nitong pagsubok na ‘to, may premyo ako," she said.
When asked which prize she's hoping for, the young cancer patient said: “Maging maayos na ‘yung pamilya namin. ‘Yung papa ko po kasi nakakulong [dahil sa drugs]."
Watch the full interview below:
At the end of the video, it was revealed that proceeds of the vlog will all go to Janella's chemotherapy.
As of this writing, the video has been viewed for more than 700,000 times since it was first uploaded on Monday, March 29.