Stories of Hope

Flowers for Hope

Written by Niki Guloy

A few months ago, a viral video told the story of a New York-based service that repurposes wedding flowers and gives them away. This was the story of the lovely ladies at Repeat Roses.

After large events generate large amounts of waste, Repeat Roses recycles the compostable waste and sends still-fresh flowers off to nursing homes and hospitals. There they can be appreciated by patients and people needing a spot of color to their day.

We do all we can at The Ruth Foundation to spread hope. Our team was inspired by the Repeat Roses mission, and thought it would be a great project to have for our own patients. In fact, we knew a lovely couple who was getting married in a few weeks. They kindly, selflessly donated their wedding flowers. A large bunch of fragrant white roses and delicate white carnations filled our office the day after the wedding.

Over the next couple of days, we went to several homes to deliver the flowers, alternating the deliveries between volunteers and the medical team. Our home visits are usually for wound care and check-ups: this time, we were delivering a bit of good cheer and well wishes.

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I joined the volunteers the day they visited some homes. That day, we got a glimpse into some of our patients’ lives. Each house told a different story, a short chapter of a richer novel. The stories are too long to fit in here so we’ll save them for another time. At each home though, no matter how brief, we saw just how important hope was to every person.

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The beauty of flowers is in the memories associated with them. Flowers speak of grand events, like weddings and celebrations. Bouquets are offered in congratulations during graduations and parenthood. Fragrant long-stemmed blooms are given in courtship. Even when they are delivered to sadder moments, like hospital rooms or funerals, flowers are brought by people who care and represent love.

When we see flowers, we are reminded that we are never truly alone. The greatest lesson we learned that day was that kindness brings hope – whether through gifts, prayer, or even a friendly smile.

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A Father’s Sacrifices

Written by Niki Guloy

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With Father’s Day right around the corner, we want to appreciate all the amazing dads who remind us what love is.

One such man is someone we met on our home visits. Meet Lolo Leoncio, 97 years old. Not only is he the father of one of our patients– a 66-year-old woman partially paralysed from a stroke– he is her main caregiver! Despite his age, Leoncio is strong and well. He helps his daughter with her daily routine, watches over her, and keeps her company. In these trying times, he is her rock. They live in a simple home, but their support comes from one another. Our team has visited them several times now, and despite his daughter’s condition she perseveres. She’s got a fighting spirit — one she obviously gets from her father.

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Fathers like Leoncio show love through their sacrifices. To have your dad by your side when you need him most is a blessing to cherish. While you can, let your dads know you love them too.

Hope for the Holidays

Written By: Mikee Pasaporte

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A 47-year old patient of ours, welcomes the holiday season with more hope than usual. He started off with immense weakness on all his extremities on the right side of his body due to a stroke. In comparison with his condition last month, he can now move his right hand, sit on his wheelchair and is improving with his speech.

He is a husband and a father. He has not given up. He has chosen not to give up. He is a fighter.

His family supports him. They are the reason he can still give that lopsided smile despite his current condition.  He is resilient. He represents those who are still willing to be the best they can be. He represents HOPE.

There are many just like him. There are many out there who haven’t lost faith in getting better, in feeling better, and in being a better version of themselves. There are many of those who haven’t given up. There are many of those who aren’t affected much by the chaos surrounding lab results that may change your life and give you a horrible prognosis. Call it good days and bad days, but regardless of what we may label it, they are our days. This is the season to give tribute to those who still have hope and still fight for it.

Merry Christmas and God bless!

Reasons to Give Thanks

Written by: Mikee Pasaporte

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“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”- J.F. Kennedy

It is that time of the year when the word “Thanksgiving” floods our social media. Though here in the Philippines, Thanksgiving Day is not a holiday or an event most families celebrate. It is difficult to be thankful for things we do not want to happen in our lives; circumstances like illness, loss of a loved one, accidents and so forth, but I would like us all to take this time to embrace the concept of being grateful.

Read this with me:

I am grateful for the air I breathe, the water I drink, the food I eat, the roof on my head, the clothes on my back, and the tons of extras I call “necessities”.

I am grateful for family and friends, who have stuck with me through thick and thin.

I am grateful for health, maybe it hasn’t been optimal the entire year, yet I am still alive.

I am grateful for being able to dream without limitations and having the courage to pursue it.

I am grateful for everyday miracles. The vehicular accident that barely missed me; my phone not slipping into the bathroom sink; getting away from the stove as soon as the oil flies in all directions and many more ^_^

I am grateful for freedom to practice religion.

I am grateful for smiles I get when I feel down. That random person who holds the door open. That random person who says “Hi”.

I have written some of the things I am grateful for …the simple things in life that we take for granted.

How about you? What are you grateful for?

Chickens, Eggs & Resiliency

Written By: Mikee Pasaporte

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One day, I was talking with Ms. Lira, our social worker, about a good patient story to feature this month. She mentioned the typical scenarios: patients who are in pain, patients who have sad family backgrounds… and a patient who takes care of chickens.

Now, this was something that tickled my inquisitive mind, so I ended up asking her to repeat that statement. She mentioned that we have a patient who takes care of nine chickens. A small business perhaps… was my initial impression. But no. This 42-year old patient suffers from liver cirrhosis, which is a condition in which the liver slowly fails and breaks down due to chronic injury; scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. I knew that I had to get to bottom of this.

Our patient showing off some of his chickens. He has    ascites   , which is the excessive accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity.

Our patient showing off some of his chickens. He has ascites, which is the excessive accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity.

Nothing good comes easy. Raising chickens in itself involves time, effort and creativity, especially if you plan to raise them in your backyard. Like most animals, you have to feed them and give them fresh water daily for them to live well and treat you right. Treating you right, in the sense that they will supply you with decent eggs.

Why does this patient need chicken eggs in the first place? You see, when a patient has advanced liver cirrhosis their diet becomes a major role in the management of the condition. The patient’s protein intake must be increased, because protein is essential for the liver to repair itself and function to the best of its ability. That’s where the egg whites come into the picture.

Since eggs are not as cost-efficient as they used to, the best way to have a fresh supply daily would be to have your own chickens to provide it for you. Since our patient has been sick for the past couple of years, his children have been supporting him financially. As a good father, his desire is to lighten the load they carry.

Smart move, right?

He has not given up being a responsible father amidst his board-like abdomen, edema and current condition. So yes, as the cliché goes, Filipinos are resilient. And I can say that our patient has portrayed that virtue.