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Cancer survivor bears discomfort to cast her vote

17 May 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor
Penaflor marks her ballot in a cozy room reserved for voters with disabilities

Forty-nine year old cancer survivor Flordeliza Penaflor made her way to the Bayanihan Centre in Kennedy Town at 3:30pm on May 13, less than three hours before the month-long overseas voting in Hong Kong ended.
The emaciated breast cancer victim was one of the more than 1,700 last-minute voters who flocked to the voting center to get their voices heard through their ballot.


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Penaflor and about a dozen elderly people, persons with disabilities and others who could not climb the flight of stairs to the polling precincts had taken advantage of the privilege to cast their votes in the cozy waiting room of Bayanihan’s administrative office.
Another beneficiary of the special arrangement was a 56-year-old woman whose legs could hardly carry her weight up the first flight of stairs of the voting center.


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They were all there to choose 12 senators and one party-list whose nominees could sit in the House of Representatives if they win enough votes.
Bayanihan administrator Tess Ubamos and the center’s volunteers took turns ushering each physically challenged voter to the waiting room, then contacted the election secretariat so they could be assisted.


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In less than 10 minutes, a member of the voter’s designated Special Board of Election inspectors would come down to the waiting room with a light blue folder containing the voter’s ballot. In another 5 or 10 minutes, the voting was over.
The special arrangement was a big relief for Penaflor, a native of Llanera, Nueva Ecija, who had undergone mastectomy on her left breast in Tseung Kwan O Hospital in March 2017 and completed her chemotherapy sessions in December last year.


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The childless widow said she was still too weak to climb stairs, as she spent six days in hospital starting last Black Saturday because of a bout of pneumonia that sparked fears cancer cells had spread to her bronchial area. She had to undergo tests to check this, and is still awaiting the results.


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Penaflor, who is on her eighth year with her British employer, initially feared she would have to shoulder the cost of her treatment as she had no medical insurance, and knew this was not part of her employer’s obligation to her.


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But on the day she was scheduled for an operation, her employer told her she would bear the cost of the treatment.
Penaflor said she will renew her contract, which falls due this year, so that she can continue with her medication.
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