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Employer throws lifeline at Filipina DH with stage 3 cancer

11 November 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap

Tonette's cheerful disposition shines through even when masked, and on her sickbed

“Never give up” is a statement that Filipina domestic worker Antonieta Simborio. aims to get by, as she battles to find a cure for her stage 3 cancer which has spread from her reproductive organs to her liver.

Unlike many of her fellow workers who crumble at the thought of having to go through chemotherapy and other potentially debilitating treatments, Simborio, who is 47, says she is hardly fazed by what lies ahead, as long as she gets better.

In this, she is helped by her employers of 13 years, who much to her surprise and gratitude, extended their contract only last Monday, even after doctors said her cancer had been spreading rapidly.  

Ganoon na nga lang po ang pasasalamat ko,” (I am so grateful for this). Simborio said, who had thought at first that she had no choice but to go home, knowing that her employer is not obliged to keep her when their contract expires next month.

By then, Simborio had already been admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan, where she was told that her cancer was already inoperable as it had metastasized to her chest, affecting her liver. But doctors said chemotherapy could help kill her cancer cells.

A fellow Filipina who was with her in the hospital got worried for Simborio, after seeing how her body had grown noticeably bloated in just two days. Lita, who reported Simborio's case to The SUN, quoted the doctor as saying it was one of the most aggressive cancers he had seen.


But despite the worrying prognosis, Simborio is not fazed, especially since she has her concerned employers by her side. She related how they accompanied her to all her doctor consultations, and on her discharge from hospital Tuesday night, came around to take her home.

On Wednesday morning she was back in hospital for a CT scan and Simborio was again full of confidence that she would overcome whatever challenges were thrown her way.

She said she will continue working for the couple for as long as she can. “Pero sabi ng employer kong lalaki huwag na daw akong magbubuhat ng mabibigat,” Simborio said. (But my male employer told me I shouldn’t carry anything heavy anymore).


She added she was grateful for the chance to get treated in Hong Kong, as she knew the medical facilities in her hometown of Ormoc, Leyte may not be as good, or even if they are, the treatment that she needs would be very expensive.

In this, she said she has the support of her family, particularly her partner of several years, who understands how important it is that she gets treated in Hong Kong before deciding to go home for good.

Simborio said she first had an inkling that something was not right when her stomach suddenly turned hard. She said she went to a doctor in Wanchai who, suspecting she had cancer, told her emphatically, “Huwag kang uuwi”. (Do not go home).

It’s an advice often given to ailing Filipina domestic workers who would sometimes insist on going back to the Philippines to be with their loved ones after being found to have a serious ailment.

Many ended up regretting the decision, after learning how much it would cost to get the kind of treatment they would have gotten in Hong Kong for next to nothing.

Basta ako gusto ko dito magpagamot. Sa pakiramdam ko naman ay malakas ako dahil magana pa rin akong kumain,” said Simborio. (As for me, I want to get treated here. I feel strong anyway because I have not lost my appetite. 

Given her firm determination and positive outlook, apart from having supportive employers willing to go the extra mile to help her on the path to recovery, Simborio has no reason not to trump cancer.

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