As a fan of the long-running show “Ang Probinsyano”, 9-year-old Mark Nico Barruga decided that his dream career is to become a police officer like the series’ protagonist.
But after being diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the young police aspirant has been unable to continue his studies, putting progress towards his goal at a standstill.
A type of blood cancer that originates in the white blood cells of bone marrow, acute lymphocytic leukemia rapidly progresses and produces immature blood cells rather than healthy mature ones.
In 2015, Barruga was suddenly struck by a high fever, which doctors initially figured to be due to dengue.
His mother, Mary Joy, said that her son’s platelet count was found to be very low (a common indicator of dengue fever), so from a clinic in San Pedro, Laguna, the Barrugas went to San Lazaro Hospital in Manila in order to seek treatment.
At San Lazaro, he was diagnosed with dengue and his treatment involved blood transfusions while in month-long confinement. Around a week later though, the fever returned along with a whole new set of symptoms such as contusions and pain in his joints, making it very difficult to walk.
It was at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Quezon City where the diagnosis of leukemia would be confirmed.
“I cried a lot when I heard that. It was like something heavy had fallen on me. I couldn’t breathe because it hurt too much,” Mary Joy recounted.
After a full 16 cycles of chemotherapy, Barruga’s condition seemed to improve but due to the Covid19 pandemic, he was unable to attend regular check-ups at PCMC while rigid lockdown protocols were in place.
When he was finally able to see a doctor P7 once again, the devastating news that his cancer had returned was what doctors had found out.
Unable to rely solely on her husband Mark Anthony’s wages as a truck driver, the family has been seeking aid from politicians and government agencies in order to cover the medical costs for their son.
His newest chemotherapy regimen costs P771,957.60 for a total of 12 cycles, which has put a heavy strain on the family that has never stopped fighting for their son’s life and dream.
Anyone that would like to extend any help to the Barrugas may send their donations via BDO (account name Mark Nico V Barruga, account number 002290222204), and for any other inquiries or assistance that can be given, Mary Joy’s contact number is 0963-6909-093.