A little over eight years ago, I met my Aunt Reby. She was a friend of my parents--their own parents were friends too--so she was, essentially, a close family friend. They knew each other from the Philippines, and when she needed a place to stay after immigrating to Toronto from Manila, we offered her my room in our three-bedroom apartment in Toronto.
She moved out soon after that. About a year later, my family moved to Brampton. We still saw her often since her apartment was within the vicinity.
Three years ago, while I was attending university, my mother suggested I take a summer job in the warehouse where Aunt Reby was the manager/supervisor. It was a small team of five: Aunt Reby and four warehouse workers (including me). I was there for three months, and at times when Aunt Reby had some filing/data entry work, she would call me over. She'd let me take a break from the stuffy warehouse to enter data into the computer.
Fast forward a couple of years, my mother mentioned that she noticed Aunt Reby had jaundice at their recent meeting. Little did we know it turned out to be a symptom of pancreatic cancer. She was soon undergoing treatment, and the chemotherapy left her extremely weak.
It eventually led to surgery on her stomach, though I'm not sure how it worked exactly, I remember it was to help her feel better about eating. She was recommended by the doctor to eat lots of vegetables and fruits.
At this point, she was back in our Brampton home--she was staying with us for a week or for some company during her recovery period.
She had another appointment coming up, and it was to determine how the cancer was doing in her body. Feeling hopeful, she asked my father to accompany her to the doctor's office.
After my father brought her back to her apartment, he came home and told us the news: the doctor said the cancer had spread through her liver.
At that point, we were speechless. Oh how fast the cancer had spread. It had only been a few months.
Knowing that she didn't have much time left, Aunt Reby flew back to the Philippines to spend time with her family. It was the first time they?ve heard about her illness--Aunt Reby didn't want to say anything at first in hopes she would never have to because she'd overcome it.
A few weeks later, we receive a phone call from her family that she had passed away, surrounded by her loved ones.
I'm riding for my Aunt Reby.
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