Cebu City

UCMed fulfills Cebu father’s Christmas wish of life-saving surgery to cancer-stricken son

John Sitchon
UCMed fulfills Cebu father’s Christmas wish of life-saving surgery to cancer-stricken son

BLESSED CHRISTMAS, Rafael Degamo, 13, and his father, Melchor, appeal for prayers for the boy's swift recovery.

John Sitchon

Rafael Degamo thanks UCMed president Candice Gotianuy and the hospital family, and prays that he recovers completely to fulfill his wish of studying for the priesthood

CEBU, Philippines – Personnel of the University of Cebu Medical Center (UCMed) pitched in to help grant a Cebu father’s wish to see his son with cancer get a life-saving operation.

Melchor Degamo, 43, is a proud father of five children from Barangay Duljo-Fatima in Cebu City. He and his wife, Glyce, are both active in their church and participate as “Couples for Christ”.

Degamo believes that his family’s faith in God is what keeps them strong through the hardest times, especially when doctors diagnosed his 13-year-old son, Raphael, with a tumor in his right leg.

“My son has been suffering from Desmoid fibromatosis tumor for quite some time. He was last operated on in June 2018,” Degamo said in Cebuano.

Desmoid tumors are soft-tissue tumors that come from fibrous tissue. They are related to connective tissue cancers called sarcomas and can occur in any part of the body.

For a while, the tumor was benign but over the course of months, Degamo said it grew back in size and was affecting Raphael’s health drastically.

This is why, on November 23, Degamo took a chance when he saw a post by UCMed president Candice Gotianuy who said that she would fulfill the Christmas wishes of those who belonged to the UCMed community. 

Degamo is a liaison officer for the Pre-Employment Medical Examination (PEME) Department of UCMed.

The #UCMakeAWish program is Gotianuy’s personal passion project that started in 2018. Those who wanted their wishes fulfilled simply needed to share their story and Christmas wish in the comment box under Gotianuy’s social media post, which was exactly what Degamo did.

Gotinauy told Rappler in a phone interview on Friday, December 9, that in 2018, they managed to get over a thousand wishes from University of Cebu students. 

The wishes ranged from academic scholarships and grants to vehicles and relief goods. This year, Gotianuy wanted to fulfill the wishes of her employees.

“This Christmas, it’s hard to celebrate because the times are hard. We figured it was the right time to build and give [our employees] hope,” Gotianuy said.

Gotianuy shared that she was touched by the stories of her employees, especially Degamo’s. On December 9, Gotianuy revealed that Degamo was the first grantee of her #UCMakeAWish program.

FULL OF CHEER. Rafael Degamo and medical staff of the University of Cebu Medical Center (UCMed) give a thumbs up sign for a successful operation to remove a tumor in his leg. Candice Gotianuy.

“We did a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan first to see if it merited an amputation. Buti na lang, when our doctors saw him, we didn’t need to amputate Raphael’s leg and just had to remove the tumor,” Gotianuy said.

On Saturday, December 10, Raphael’s surgery removing the tumor pushed through. 

“ I am deeply grateful to the very kind surgeon who is waiving her professional fee and wishes to remain anonymous,” Gotianuy shared in a Facebook post.

After the operation, Rappler talked to Raphael with his father. The boy shared that he was overjoyed after the operation because he could finally continue his dream of becoming a priest. 

“I’m so happy for him and thankful for the UC community, especially for Atty. Go, Miss Candice and the doctors who gave this to us all for free,” the older Degamo said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

According to Gotianuy, there are still more grantees to the #UCMakeAWish program, and that they will be posting them on her official Facebook page for the public to see. 

If you would like to donate to the Degamo family, you may contact him via 09311250257 or message him through his Facebook page here–

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