Zsa Zsa Padilla during an appearance in the ABS-CBN Sunday show ASAP 2012 before she left for the States for further treatment. Below: With her late beloved Dolphy]

MANILA, AUGUST 25 2012 (PHILSTAR) FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo -Like what Dr. Vicki Belo told Funfare the other day, Zsa Zsa Padilla reacted to the diagnosis that the growth in her left kidney, as big as a golf ball, was malignant with admirable cool, saying that she was still “blessed” that her cancer was discovered at its early stage (1).

“More than 90 percent of those diagnosed with that type of cancer fully recover,” said Vicki who accompanied Zsa Zsa and daughter Zia to the States last Aug. 19 for a second opinion at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills and who’s flying right back to be with Zsa Zsa when she undergoes a three-hour surgery in the same hospital on Wednesday, Aug. 29; but she’s checking in Monday, Aug. 27. (Note: Vicki will explain the complicated surgery in this afternoon’s edition of Startalk on GMA, after Eat, Bulaga!)

“I will stay in the hospital for four days and I hope to go back home soon after, maybe in two weeks, to resume work,” Zsa Zsa said in an exclusive phone interview with Funfare yesterday afternoon (midnight in L.A.) “I just came back from the hospital for my pre-operation lab tests — you know, the usual X-ray and ECG. My blood pressure is okay naman, 110/70, which is my normal BP. I was accompanied by Kit and Sonny (two of Dolphy’s children based in the States).”

Even if she feels pain at the mid-section of her back, Zsa Zsa said she refuses to take painkillers.

“These past few years,” said Zsa Zsa, “I’ve been undergoing executive check-up every year at Makati Med, kasi nga the doctors were monitoring my kidney especially after I had a surgery in 2007. I was born with a defective ureter, same case as Kris (Aquino’s) son Joshua. When I urinated, I suffered from intense pain; it was as if pinipisil ang kidney ko. Parati akong may balisawsaw (strangury).”

In April last year, Zsa Zsa was given a clean bill of health during her usual check-up. She began having pain only last May. Her creatinine was way above normal. An ultrasound detected a polyp in her left kidney.

“Even if I thought that it was just polyp, sabi ko siguro maliit lang, I started thinking, ‘Paano kung may cancer ako?’ I thought of asking ‘Why me?’ only once and then I said, ‘Why not me?’ I was always stressed out because, even if there was a care-giver, I was there for Dolphy all the time during his illness and I was working. I was in pain, crying on the set, pero tuloy ang trabaho ko.”

Said Vicki (who paid for Zsa Zsa’s initial bills at Cedars-Sinai including Zsa Zsa and Zia’s airfare and hotel accommodation), “It was stress that aggravated her condition. Si Zsa Zsa kasi, especially when she was with Dolphy she tried not to cry; she kept her feelings to herself.”

And when she did cry, Zsa Zsa said that she suffered chest pains.

“I asked my doctor and he told me that that was because my body didn’t know that I was ‘acting,’ pretending that everything was okay even if it was not. I was told that I could have died from it,” recalled Zsa Zsa who has politely refused Vicki’s offer to pay for her surgery and further stay at Cedars-Sinai. “I have saved up for an emergency like this. I have gone through three surgeries, kaya pinaghandaan ko na talaga. Vicki is there for me, she’s a true friend, but I don’t want naman to abuse her kindness.”

Other friends are there for her, one of them is Kris Aquino who has booked Zsa Zsa’s daughter Karylle on an early flight to the States so Karylle could be with her mom during her surgery.

“Kris never ceases to surprise me,” said Zsa Zsa. “I don’t have to tell her what I need. Ganoon siya. Bigla na lang sino-sorpresa niya ako. Like when she called, saying, ‘Uy, ipapadala ko d’yan si Kaye.’ All I could say was, ‘Ha?’ Nakaka-touched.”

Dolphy’s other children who are in the States are also giving Zsa Zsa all the support that she needs.

“I met Pamela (Baby Smith) during the 40th-day commemoration of Dolphy’s death here,” said Zsa Zsa. “My other stepchildren would regularly call to check on me.”

Zsa Zsa said that having a regular check-up is a must. The earlier anything wrong is diagnosed, the better are the chances of cure.

“I have a cousin in Las Vegas who, even if she had annual check-ups, discovered a lump in her breast while taking a shower. It was Stage 3 na! Her breasts were removed and she had to go through radiation and chemotherapy. In God’s grace, she survived. OK na OK na siya.”

At the hospital near Cedars-Sinai where Zsa Zsa and Zia are billeted, Zsa Zsa said that she has developed an early-morning ritual.

“While having coffee, I would sit yoga-style on the floor looking at the mountains from our room. Then, I talk to Dolphy and tell him about my daily activities. I would end in prayer, asking God to help me overcome this new trial in my life. I know that Dolphy is just there, listening, and since he’s now nearer to God siguro he’s whispering to Him to heal me.”

At Cedars-Sinai, Zsa Zsa said she gets moral support from Filipinos working there. She has also been receiving inspiring messages even from strangers via her Twitter account and Facebook.

“I tweet back,” assured Zsa Zsa. “I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and messages of encouragement.”

One such message from a stranger said: Think positive. Don’t ever say again “I have cancer.” Don’t claim it as your own. We are all here for you, fighting with you, fighting for you. You’re not alone.

No, Zsa Zsa is not in denial. She knows that what she’s going through is life-threatening but at the same time she hopes that she will be cancer-free in due time.

Back home, she plans to join an anti-cancer advocacy.

“It can happen to anybody,” she said. “I have a grandmother who died of bone cancer, the most painful cancer according to the doctors. I have an uncle who has just died of cancer. Everybody should take care of their health, that’s why I said that regular check-up is a must. Nagpapasalamat ako na mayroon akong naramdaman. Otherwise kung wala, I would never have known that there’s a growth inside my body that is cancerous.”

Vicki: Zsa Zsa has big chance of full recovery

FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo The Philippine Star Updated August 23, 2012 12:00 AM 0 comment to this post

[PJOTO -Zsa Zsa Padilla with daughter Karylle who is badly affected by her mom’s condition even when they are still grieving over Dolphy’s death.]

Why me?

According to Dr. Vicki Belo, Zsa Zsa Padilla asked that question only once after doctors at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills confirmed that the golf ball-sized growth in Zsa Zsa’s kidney was malignant, Stage 1 cancer.

Zsa Zsa Padilla and Dr. Vicki Belo two days before they left for the States to seek a second opinion at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills.

“After that,” said Vicki who not only volunteered to shoulder the expenses for Zsa Zsa’s treatment abroad but also accompanied her to the States, “she never asked the question again. She only said, ‘Why shouldn’t it be me?’ Zsa Zsa is amazing. She’s very strong; she’s super-positive. She keeps talking to The Lord and also draws strength from the ‘LOVEY’ tattoo on her left arm, which is the exact reproduction of how her late husband Dolphy would sign Zsa Zsa’s name on the card when he gave her a gift. She kisses that tattoo and presses it close to her heart.”

[PHOTO -Zsa Zsa Padilla and Dr. Vicki Belo two days before they left for the States to seek a second opinion at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills.]

Vicki and Zsa Zsa, together with Zsa Zsa’s daughter Zia, left for the States two Sundays ago to seek a second opinion on Zsa Zsa’s ailing kidney that has been giving her unbearable pain for a few years now. Except for the pain, for which she didn’t take any antibiotics since she has a high tolerance for pain, Zsa Zsa didn’t show any other symptoms such as dramatic loss of weight.

“Even before we went to the States,” added Vicki, “I knew it was cancer. I think Zsa Zsa felt the same way, too. But still, just to make sure, I advised her to go to the States for further tests.”

The diagnosis was done last weekend, coinciding with the 40th day after Dolphy’s death which was commemorated by Dolphy’s children led by Eric and Epy.

Vicki and Zia are billeted at a hotel a stone’s throw from Cedars-Sinai and Vicki in another hotel nearby. Vicki came home the other day to keep some important appointments and she’s flying right back to L.A. to be with Zsa Zsa when she goes under the knife on Monday, Aug. 27.

“The surgery will take more or less two hours,” said Vicki. “Zsa Zsa will stay in the hospital for one week and it will take her about two months to recover. She will not go through radiation or chemotherapy. She has a big chance of fully recovering, more than 90 percent chance.”

It helps that Zsa Zsa looks at the bright side. She even told Vicki that she’s “so blessed” that her cancer was diagnosed on its early stage.

“She’s upbeat,” assured Vicki. “She isn’t depressed like people in the same condition. She isn’t taking any pain-killer or any anti-depressant medication. Her appetite is good. Zia is a great morale-booster. She’s watching over her mom 24/7.”

Zsa Zsa’s other daughter, Karylle, continues to pray for her and might fly to the States to comfort her.

“Karylle was greatly affected by Dolphy’s death,” revealed Zsa Zsa during an interview before she and company left for the States. “She’s tormented by the fear that, you know, what if she loses her mom or a parent. I’ve been assuring her that I’ll be okay.”

What’s up?

• Was Queneerich Rehman (photo) being a sour loser when she insinuated that the results of the Miss World contest, won by Miss China, was lutong-makaw, that her chances were adversely affected by the Scarborough Shoal issue between China and the Philippines? Those who watched the pageant on TV will agree that there were dozens and dozens among the 116 contestants who were as pretty as, if not far prettier than Queneerich. Jojo Gabinete is right. It’s “unqueenly” for Queneerich to be sour-graping. Enough already!

• The Blue & Gray Gallery will open its second group exhibit dubbed the Society of Painters in Watercolor on Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. The participating artists are Chrisanto Aquino, Menchu Arandilla, Vic Bachoco, Angel Cacnio, Mar Cempron, Toti Cerda, Ping Ceriola, Ton Daquioag, RM Deleon, Biboy Delotavo, Clarence Eduarte, Egai Fernandez, Caloy Gabuco, Alfred Galura, Ronald Jeresano, Domeng Labordo, Marge Lim, Noli Manalang, Jun Martinez, Nick Masangkay, Chris Mirang, Mario Panis, Ernie Patricio, Fred Ramirez, Lester Rodriguez, Alex Roxas, Adi Santos and Cris Tuazon.

Touted as “the next destination of creativity,” Blue Gray, with Monette Rivera-Alvarez as managing director, is located at the former Cubao Shoe Center inside the Araneta Complex in Quezon City. For inquiries, call (632) 990-5852.

• If you happen to be in Singapore and you see a huge billboard featuring a bespectacled man who looks like Rico Hizon, don’t think but just look twice. Yes, it’s Rico all right. The two-storey high BBC News Day Billboard (above) occupies a wall at Raffles Place, Singapore’s Central Business District. Rico is a BBC business anchor-reporter.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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