Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Unraveling the Double JJ Resort Campground: An Enchanting Camping Experience with Some Untamed Corners

Nestled amidst nature's bounty, the Double JJ Resort Campground promises a memorable camping experience that draws outdoor enthusiasts from far and wide. With a picturesque setting and an array of amenities (home to annual Electric Forest), this campground offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, like any destination, it has its pros and cons. 

From the moment you set foot in the Double JJ Resort Campground, you're greeted with a sense of serenity but immediately replaced by frustration because directions were not clearly given with poor signages. The campground's secluded location adds to the overall charm, making it a haven for those seeking peace and quiet except that there was a big event going on in the adjacent campground and loud music was played all throughout our stay.

The Double JJ Resort Campground caters to a diverse group of campers. Whether you arrive with a massive RV or prefer tent camping, there's a spot for everyone. If you are tent camping, you might want to check the electric connectivity or you would end up like the family beside us who had to connect their electricity to our camper since they didn’t have the right plug.

One of the few drawbacks we encountered during our stay at Double JJ was the issue of untrimmed trees near camping spots designated for big campers. While the rustic appeal of the untouched wilderness is understandable, it may pose challenges for campers with larger vehicles. A bit of trimming and careful planning could alleviate this concern, ensuring a comfortable camping experience for all visitors.

The resort boasts a big pool that beckons campers to cool off during hot summer days. The size of the pool is impressive, providing plenty of space for guests to enjoy swimming and lounging. However, we did notice that the pool's maintenance could be improved. Regular cleaning and upkeep would go a long way in enhancing the overall experience for visitors.

Amidst the untouched corners, one hidden gem stood out—the hot tub. Tucked away in a corner of the pool, the hot tub was a delightful surprise. It was a relaxing spot to unwind and rejuvenate after a day of outdoor activities.

While the tranquil atmosphere is appreciated by many campers, it was evident that there were hardly any staff members regularly checking on the amenities and facilities. Occasional maintenance rounds and inspections could address minor issues and provide campers with an even more pleasant stay.

The Double JJ Resort Campground undoubtedly offers an amazing camping experience, surrounded by nature's splendor and offering a range of amenities for guests to enjoy. The Double JJ Resort Campground has the potential to become an unrivaled camping destination that seamlessly blends rustic charm with modern comfort.

So, if you're looking for a quiet retreat amidst nature's beauty and don't mind embracing a few untamed edges, the Double JJ Resort Campground might just be the perfect spot for your next camping adventure and they have the best restaurant!


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Embracing the Blessing of Survival: A Cancer Survivor’s Testimony on Triumphing Through Difficulties, Pain, and Suffering

This post is long overdue. I have been wanting to share an update but life got so busy. However, surviving cancer is an incredible journey that I knew I had to share what I went through, how I survived it, and lessons I learned after being encompassed with a whirlwind of emotions, challenges, and moments of despair. It is a battle that tests both the physical and emotional limits. However, within the depths of such adversity lies the incredible growth and a newfound appreciation for my life.

Going through the trials of cancer undoubtedly requires immense strength and resilience. Each day becomes a testament to the power of the human spirit. I remember so many times confronting fears that I never knew existed and tapping into a reserve of courage I never thought possible. Waking up in the middle of the night with a bloody nose, taking a shower and turning the water red because of nose bleed, and experiencing the worst pain possible in every fiber of my being. My husband, David, would watch me helplessly when even a gentle touch created such unbearable pain. The journey taught me to embrace my inner strength empowering me with newfound confidence.

The experience of surviving cancer shines a light on the fragility and preciousness of life. Having faced the prospect of mortality, I develop a profound appreciation for the simplest joys and everyday miracles. From simply waking up in the morning, spending time with my loved ones, and doing simple things in life.

The support I received from family, friends, and even strangers during the cancer journey was overwhelming. I was deeply touched by the kindness and compassion shown by others, which deepened my connections with loved ones and reminded me that I need to pay it forward. The experience becomes my beacons of empathy, offering solace and understanding to others facing similar challenges.

Surviving cancer has definitely a way of recalibrating my perspective on life. The trivialities that once consumed my energy and focus pale in comparison to the gift of a healthy life. I used to think that awards, recognitions, and degrees are all that matter. My life has existed largely competing with myself to be the best you could possibly be in terms of the long list of accomplishments in life. Getting sick with cancer, going through 30 radiation treatment, five surgeries, and one year of chemo, reminded me that life is short. We need to do what we love.

While surviving cancer is undoubtedly a challenging and painful journey, it is important to recognize the blessings that can arise from such an experience. It is in the crucible of difficulties, pain, and suffering that I found my true strength, learn to appreciate life's precious moments, deepen my connections with others, shift my perspectives, and inspire those around me. I emerged from the battle with a profound sense of gratitude and an unwavering determination to live each day to the fullest. I have finally completed all my treatments, and even though I need to continue taking a chemo pill/ blocker for ten years, I appreciate life's greatest blessing and that is being alive.

If you or someone you know is battling cancer, continue fighting. While roads might be difficult, life is worth fighting for.


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Greatest Lesson from our Trip to the Philippines

Seven years. It took me that long before I was able to see friends and family back in the Philippines again. It was a short trip but one that was filled with beautiful memories and nostalgic moments with people close to my heart. Coming from a cold, snowy Michigan to a tropical country, the temptation to talk about the place is compelling but I would like to share instead the greatest lesson I was reminded of by one of my former students.

The journey back home was the first time for David. Since I was working in Indonesia when we got married, he’s been there several times but never to the country where I was born and grew up. The trip however, proved to be more than meeting friends and family and showing him different places but also a reminder that the sweetest part of leaving home is knowing, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you’ll always carry it with you.

It was one of those poignant moments during the visit of my former student, Dr. Chryz,  telling me stories about surviving college, passing the board, having the desire to work in far flung places to provide medical care to those who could not afford the expenses of getting sick, and listening to the passion in his voice about his burning desire to help his family after all the support they have given with his studies, that reminded me of that beautiful culture of the Filipinos. I couldn’t be more proud that my husband was listening to my former student talk about helping others instead of being rich. 

One of the greatest joys of a teacher is realizing that her student turned out not just as a functioning part of a community but someone who makes a difference. While teaching is already buried in the deepest recesses of my heart, Chryz reminded me that being a former teacher is one of the best things that happened to me.

As profound as it may seem, life is really not just a journey, but the people, the experiences, and the lessons we gleaned along the way. 

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Life, Interrupted (Battling Cancer amidst Pandemic)

 To find meaning amidst pain and suffering has always been my goal ever since we heard about my cancer diagnosis.  Six months flew by so fast and I failed miserably to write another blog article.

At times, I blamed it on my lack of motivation but the truth is the macabre tapestry of the inexplicable side effects of chemotherapy and radiation hampered my desire to be the source of inspiration to the people who are going through the same situation.

Last year, I was determined to start my own business. Then, the pandemic happened and before the year ended, I was diagnosed with cancer. 

It was a whirlwind of events after that. When I first heard after my surgery that I needed to have chemotherapy, I cried. The tears were shed full of questions as to why. The lamentations were so strong that my faith crumbled. I would not sugar coat the suffering I had to romanticize finding meaning amidst suffering. 

When my hair started falling on my first chemo, I was too sick to care. My mouth was full of blisters that I could not even speak. I had to text my husband whatever I had to say. Then, I would wake up in the middle of the night with a bleeding nose. At times, it would happen while I was taking a shower and the water would turn red. The next week after the chemo infusion, I would start having stomach upset. Six to ten times a day going back and forth to the bathroom each of them feels like your whole inside is being expunged. Sometimes, it feels like you have an open wound and it’s being rubbed with something sharp. Then the pounding bone pain. Every bone in my body, big and small, was so much in pain that doing anything was a struggle. 

When I started swelling, I had people telling me that I looked good. The thing about going through chemo, you have a lot of steroids in your body. They infuse steroids before the chemo meds and anything I complain about like pain, I immediately get steroid medication.  So, gaining water weight was not surprising. What the others perceived as me looking healthy was actually something that could be a sign of heart failure so I had to undergo tests to find out. In reality, I was not looking good. 

While celebration was in order after I completed the six intense chemotherapy sessions, I mentally prepared myself for 30 Radiation treatment. I knew that my body would be going through a lot during the process. But, I didn’t expect that when I was on my last leg of completing the treatment and my skin was burnt and full of blisters, I would be dealing with an emotional trauma seeing my mother fighting with Covid. But, I finished all the 30 treatments and my mother survived Covid. 

In every story, we are always looking forward to reading the resolution because we want  a happy ending. While my story is still in the process of finding the resolution, I have survived the worst and the protagonists in my story are far too many to succumb to the pain and suffering. 

I still need another surgery and my chemo is until January next year. Having survived everything, I knew that my life might have been interrupted, but I am lucky to be alive and get a chance to fight. I am still working on my own business, the iPrint Sign Solutions and creating educational products, and while the road might be murky at times, I find solace knowing that I am fighting a good fight. 

I would always be grateful to David’s sister, Renee, for her patience, and for all her sacrifices to help us. She and her whole family had been there to make everything easier to bear.

To my husband, Beb, thank you for everything. This might be the hardest battle we’ve ever fought but I couldn’t ask for a better person to be with than you. Thank you for taking care of me and for making sure that I have everything I need. There is no suffering too great to bear if you’re with the right person.

“It is a privilege for us to look at circumstances and discern God’s involvement in them. To recognize them as more than mere happenstance but rather God’s own detailed design and plan. To see that He is allowing us to cooperate with Him in bringing life from death, growth from loss, testimony from tragedy.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Why Do I Have Cancer?

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love, and to be greater than our suffering.”

Why do I have cancer? My husband and I have asked the same question over and over again and never really found the logical answer to the suffering that I am going through.

Someone suggested that I probably got it because I never gave birth to a baby. While that’s something to contemplate about, my journey as a breast cancer patient has brought me to many stories including of a mom who was diagnosed with breast cancer when her baby was only one year old. Another story is of my Physical Therapist who is a mom of five children and yet she was not spared from this illness. When I got a gift from an organization that provides support for breast cancer patients, not a single story features someone who never gave birth.

My genetic mutation cancer test also yielded a negative result which means I do not carry any genes that are attributed to breast cancer. 
Someone said maybe because of stress. Well, I work for myself and David has been a blessing as a husband so I don't know what would be the cause of stress.

Then, there’s my diet. I try to eat healthy foods all the time including fish, vegetables and fruits. While my husband and I do indulge with restaurant-cooked meals, it doesn’t happen every day. I exercise, I don’t ever drink alcohol, never ever tried drugs, and never ever smoked in my whole life.

Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pain has been an intrinsic part of being diagnosed with breast cancer. In my quest for enlightenment to help me process what I am going through, Romans 5:3-4 clearly explicated the answers I have been seeking. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Pain transforms you. After three surgeries, countless procedures, facing side effects of my chemotherapy, and a year of uncertainties, I have no adjectives to describe the pain that I have been going through. I take comfort with the knowledge that everything is under God’s hands. He knows where he’s bringing me and the salvation that awaits for me in the future.

While this affliction is a hard pill to swallow every day, I count my blessings the moment I open my eyes. I have a husband who selflessly cares for me, I have his family who has been giving us amazing support during this difficult time, I have my family though thousand miles away had been sending me love, prayers and comfort, our church has so many people sending their prayers and offering support, and my former students and countless friends all over the world had been sending me messages of support.

I know I might never find the exact answer that would fully conciliate my heart to be enlightened why I need to go through so much pain. But, this I know, if God brings me to this then He will see me through this.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33

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