Anthony 'Ka Tunying' Taberna’s daughter Zoey is now cancer-free

·3 min read
A shaved Zoey Taberna (second right) and her family wearing face masks for the camera.
Zoey Taberna (second right) and her family at an Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) chapel, after returning home from Singapore. (Photo: Anthony Taberna/Facebook)

After about three years in treatment, Zoey Taberna confirms that she is now cancer-free.

“I guess it's safe to say that that's the end of my cancer journey,” Taberna shared on Facebook and Instagram on Monday (July 4). She also thanked her family, friends, the medical staff who tended to her, and her church-mates in the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) for their support.

Zoey, one of two daughters of broadcaster Anthony “Ka Tunying” Taberna and wife Rossel Velasco, was diagnosed in 2019 with leukemia. This, being a type of cancer that forms in the bone marrow, usually involving the excessive development of abnormal white blood cells.

Her parents, however, did not disclose the truth to Zoey immediately so as not to scare her. Zoey’s condition only became public knowledge around December 2, 2020, with the Taberna patriarch sharing an image of Zoey having her hair shaved while undergoing chemotherapy.

Treatment was going smoothly at first, but tests from December 2021 would reveal that she had a higher-than-average blood sugar level, in addition to experiencing aches in different parts of her body.

It was then that Zoey and her family “found out that [her] acute lymphoblastic leukemia [ALL] had morphed into acute myeloid leukemia [AML], and this meant that all of the cancer cells that [were] supposed to be long gone, came back in a way more dangerous and fatal form.”

According to a report from Medical News Today, ALL involves myeloblasts, which can evolve into white blood cells that target bacteria and viruses. Meanwhile, AML happens when there is an excess in lymphocytes, which depending on the type, can either create antibodies (B lymphocytes) or eliminate tumor cells and manage a body’s immune functions (T lymphocytes).

Zoey also recalled her bone marrow transplant, which happened after heading to Singapore for her treatments “[in] the third week of January.” Her sister Helga was the donor, and to Zoey’s shock, Helga too had to undergo procedures such as blood extractions.

“If they would do those [procedures] to me, I wouldn't care, even if it hurt, because I'm so used to it already, but it was my sister. She's never even been confined! [...] I felt like I deprived her from being with the people she wants to be with and going to places she wants to go to because she was stuck with me, so I'm more than grateful that she did this and sacrificed for me,” Zoey continued.

Although she initially feared dying at the age of 13, Zoey said that thinking about her loved ones and God kept her going.

“When I try to remember some of the difficult episodes that happened to me, the only thought in my mind is ‘wow, nagawa ko pala 'yon (I actually did that).’ It's really shocking for me because I'm the most paranoid, emotional and easily scared person I know. I am certain that if God wasn't there to give me the strength I needed, I wouldn't have done it,” she recalled.

By the end of her post, Zoey thanked once more the people who prayed for and supported her in her treatments. Although she and her family have already returned home to the Philippines, Zoey said that she will continue undergoing check-ups and “[maintenance] drug infusions from time to time, but [those are] nothing compared to what I've been through.”

Reuben Pio Martinez is a news writer who covers stories on various communities and scientific matters. He regularly tunes in to local happenings. The views expressed are his own.

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