17 April 2012

{Super Mom} Jasmine Mendiola - Mio's Mom

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13
Being a mom, wife, daughter, and being able to work eight hours (or more!) a day, maintain a household and still find time to do something you are passionate about is not easy.  As a first time mom, I am still adjusting to my new role.  Juggling it with all my other roles require discipline, commitment and A LOT of love!  The key, according to Stephen Covey, is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.  Super Mom is a Cruisin' Mommyhood's blog feature where I interview moms who can give inspiration and empowerment to working moms like me.

Jasmine Mendiola is a make-up artist, style consultant and a writer.  But, she is known by many as Mio's mom.  Mio is an 8-year old Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) patient.

I met Jasmine at the company I work for last July 2011.  She was our Style Consultant for Professional Image.  I was tasked to introduce her to the training participants and so I was given a copy of her profile.  Aside from reading her impressive credentials, I found myself stammering as I continued to read about Mio's fight against cancer.

I met Mio after Jasmine's talk and we invited them to stay for lunch.  If Mio was not wearing a mask at that time, I would not have noticed that he is sick.  Jasmine and Mio's love for each other was radiating inside our training room as they ate lunch together.  Their story, their fight against cancer, is a not a fairy tale.  It is a story about a mom and her little son, whose journey towards healing teaches us about hope, gratitude, God's providence and unconditional love.

How are you and Mio?  How is his treatment coming along?

He’s responding very well. He’s already in the maintenance phase of his chemotherapy which entails for him to go through blood tests and Vincristine intravenous sessions once a month and we have less than 18 months left until he can be in the remission phase. Once every 3 months he has to go through an intrathecal chemo where methatrexate is injected through his spine. He’s used to it now so he hardly cries which I think is very brave of him. 

Thankfully, with regular schooling, good friends and my family’s happily ordinary way of raising “us”, Mio’s life template is as normal as can be except for the daily masks; the trips to the laboratory for CBC when he has fever, cough or colds; the eating problem and excessive perspiration due to his higher temperature. I, on the other hand, am eager to continuously provide what's best for him, constantly reminding myself that we are blessed and that hopefully, somewhere down the road, the things I do all lead to helping other people, too to pay it forward.

As a mom, what are your non-negotiables in parenting? 

I can't really say I have a non-negotiable especially since I always always included Mio in any decision I have to make, which is at a fault most of the time because as he grows older, he reasons out and points out "e why before... blah blah blah". I also am used to compensating for my dual role as a mom and dad, being a single parent, so after playing bad cop, I have to shift and cuddle him to make up for that so it's pretty shitzo. 

A recent conversation with co-parents was about spanking and we got to talk about how our parents weren't as cuddly or expressive of how much they love us, most of us really experienced spanking one way or another and yet we still love our parents --- what more this generation of our kids where we parents tend to hover over them, sugarcoat words and literally baby them with love and affection? I guess when it comes down to disciplining, if spanking equals a non-negotiable, it would be the day that Mio answers back disrespectfully or when I catch him lie to me. I hope that day doesn't come if I keep my communication lines open and calm with him. (crossing fingers!)

You are a style consultant, make up artist, writer and a mom.  You are also busy with the different activities to raise funds for Mio's treatment.  What are your priorities right now?  What do you do to manage your time?

Everyday is a balancing act as most freelancers would know. I don’t have a fixed schedule except for attending to Mio’s school and medical needs. I work my schedule around those two things on a daily basis but I try to attend to on-going projects in equal amounts of time. For example, Mio’s classes on weekdays is from 715-1130AM. That means that my day starts at 5am and while he’s at school, I work on my computer reading email inquiries, finishing up my writing assignments, checking up on my blog entries, syncing my calendars and tasks, monitoring stocks of our fund-raising items, etc. I get ready to fetch him from school and have lunch with him by 1030. 

After lunch, unless Mio has a chemo or check up scheduled or if I have a shoot, a meeting or a class to teach, I get to stay home and work from there so I also get to check on Mio’s homework and his medication. Weekends, I let Mio spend time with his grandparents and cousins while I attend to makeup or teaching assignments if there are any.

What is your inspiration?   What is the most important lesson Mio has taught you?

Aside from Mio, constant gratitude… prayers… and admittedly, other people are my inspiration. I wouldn’t dream of taking all the credit for fueling all these because Mio and I couldn’t have done it without help. Ala Paredes, a batchmate of mine tried to help all the way from Australia; so did Abhie and Aileen Arcigal from UAE or Dubai; my Miriam High School batchmates; Alessa Lanot; friends and family—in so many words, they all say that who else would help each other? We should build a community where we can trust each other that if things go wrong, help will be there. Mio got sick and shortly after, Ondoy happened. And people still helped. We try to help others who are in need to regardless if it was an illness, a calamity or a sense of hopelessness.

If there's anything I learned from Mio (or taught him, I'm confused now because I'd like to think that we grow up together, I really didn't exactly know how to be parent before he came in the picture), it's that "hope" wells up when we begin to appreciate the people and the things that we have in our life rather than constantly desire what we don’t have. This mantra is what I have lived by since Mio got sick. God provides and we help ourselves. There is good in people. We have to believe that in spite of the hardships, the pain and the suffering people go through or make others go through… there is goodness in everyone everywhere and we can count on it.

Mio Fights Cancer is a group of friends and family helping Jose Emilio Mendiola, a 7 year old Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia patient, who is now on the maintenance phase of his chemotherapy sessions. Since 2009, when Mio was first daignosed with the disease, the group has been organizing creative fundraisers such as Mio Cans, MioFightsCancer t-shirts, iCANCERvive baller bands, greeting cards, gift wrappers, gigs, concerts, and art exhibits to help Mio surpass the hardest phases of his treatments. Mio is coping well with his daily medication, monthly intravenous shots, and quarterly spinal injections while excelling in his academics as a scholar at the Ateneo Grade School. He has become a modern day hero for being a brave and talented yougn boy and takes interest in basketball on top of his love for drawing and coloring. (www.miofightscancer.com)

To know how you can help, visit www.miofightscancer.com.  You may also get in touch with Jasmine through her contact details below.

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