Health And Family

How our family survived COVID-19: Finding hope and strength in others

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda - Philstar.com
How our family survived COVID-19: Finding hope and strength in others
Spending our 19th wedding anniversary with the Cardinal Santos Medical Center frontliners

Death is inevitable, it will eventually come. It’s one of those circumstances that one can’t really prevent. But having death in the family due to COVID-19 is something else. It’s really such a heartbreaking experience, especially since you cannot even hug each other and grieve together.

I can’t begin to imagine the loneliness that one undergoes being alone in a room, with no family member or loved one to take care of you, as your body is getting weaker. When that family member passes on, he or she succumbs to the disease alone. Most of the time, none of our loved ones are able to say goodbye in person. That’s what happened to us. We lost my husband’s older brother, our beloved Kuya Kenn. He was in the hospital for a month, but he still lost his battle against COVID. It’s sad enough that you’ll learn of deaths of friends, friends of friends, family of friends, but it’s so overwhelmingly tragic and emotionally heavy when it’s this close to home. I never expected this to happen to our family, let alone all of us in the household getting infected by the virus as well.

Since our family was still infected with COVID-19, we weren’t able to attend the memorial service for our beloved Kuya Kenn who passed on after a month of battling with the virus.

The dreaded day has come

Despite having myself, hubby Nonong, our eldest daughter, Fiana, and our yayas vaccinated with Pfizer, when the deadly virus knocked on our door, all 8 of us got infected! Nonong was the first one in our home who got sick. It was difficult for us to trace where he got infected since as a public servant, his job requires him to go out almost every day. Nonong had severe pneumonia while our children and our yayas had mild symptoms like me. While still having to mourn the loss of Kuya Kenn and thinking about his parents’ emotional struggle, these things didn’t help with Nonong’s mental and emotional stress. He had to struggle through the sadness and worry while being physically sick. To make matters worse, Nonong’s health suddenly worsened the day after Kuya Kenn passed on.

While doing home care, Nonong’s condition deteriorated and his oxygen level fluctuated, hitting as low as 88% even with oxygen support. We rushed him to the Emergency Room of the Cardinal Santos Medical Center. Waiting at the E.R. with Nonong for his admission and test results was painstaking for both of us, but most especially for my husband who was already in pain and had difficulty breathing.

I couldn’t tell Nonong that his COVID pneumonia was severe since I didn’t want him to worry and lose hope.

Thank God I had COVID!

When I say that COVID is a very lonely disease, I don’t take that lightly. As I mentioned, Kuya Kenn didn’t have a family member with him in the hospital. Unfortunately, that’s the “norm” if you’re a COVID patient. You, as a family member, can also feel that sense of loneliness and helplessness since you can only do so much for your loved ones who got sick. It was therefore a blessing that I was positive for COVID as I was allowed to take care of Nonong in the hospital.

When the doctors told me that they will be forced to intubate Nonong if he doesn’t respond to the COVID medicines, I was so scared, especially since once intubated, they said that his survival rate was 50-50. I wanted to cry, but I had to stay strong so Nonong wouldn’t lose hope. I didn’t want him to worry so I couldn’t tell him that his COVID-pneumonia was severe. Maybe it was the years of being trained to think on my feet and not getting too emotional while on the job that prevented me from panicking. I did what I had to do to make sure that Nonong was going to get the treatment that he needed.

Sharing with you our family’s reflections through our Pamilya Talk episode, "What We Did When COVID Hit Our Home: Part 1."


But the HUGE help came from the daily online healing masses, novenas, and prayers from family, relatives and friends. Physically, what cured Nonong was his medicines, but mentally and emotionally, what gave us strength was the community pantries of prayer and love.

Most memorable wedding anniversary

Though he was not yet out of the woods, by the time we had our 19th wedding anniversary on Oct 5, the doctors were already saying that Nonong’s prognosis was looking good. His online healing mass also became our anniversary mass which was led by our former parish priest, Fr. Steven Zabala, who also officiated our wedding several years back. Though we just had simple food delivered to the hospital, it was the most memorable anniversary celebration we’ve ever had.

What gave us strength was the community pantries of prayer and love from family and friends.

Until now, we express how grateful we are to those who prayed with and for us, and sent us well wishes, and support in any means necessary. Our utmost thanks as well to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center management headed by its dynamic President and CEO Raul Pagdanganan, its Medical Director Dr. Zenaida Javier-Uy, our wonderful doctors Rachel Lee-Chua, Sheila Arriola and Marichu Catan, the nurses, and the rest of the dedicated frontliners at the hospital who became our extended family when we were there.

I know God still has a deeper purpose and I leave it up to Him to use me and my family as communicators of hope, love, and faith.

Experiencing something like what my family and I have experienced is really life changing. The thing is, it’s not only in our household that these things happen. It’s tough to see the silver lining when you’re still at that state of grief and extreme melancholy. But as a family, we try, and you should too. It was such a difficult time having to accept the fact that our beloved Kuya Kenn is gone and that we won’t be able to be with him physically. But we know that he will forever be in our hearts. I’m very grateful that Nonong was able to beat COVID-19 and that he’s already in the process of full recovery. I’m beyond happy that my children and our yayas are also alive and well. With this, I know God still has a deeper purpose for all of us, that’s why I leave it up to HIM to use me and my family as better communicators of hope, love, and faith for those who would be needing some.



Watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 5:30-7:00pm Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday). You can also follow my social media accounts: InstagramFacebookYouTubeTwitter, and Kumu. Please share your stories or suggest topics at [email protected].



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