Myla Cunanan: Anything Is Possible with God
Diagnosed with Leukemia at age 10, Myla Cunanan, a young cancer survivor, proves that anything is possible with God. For her mother Leyna, seeing her youngest daughter experience a number of illnesses, she placed all of her faith in God’s plan.
For when I’m weak, I am strong.[Video of Myla in Hospital with visitors and nurses]
Aliw Pablo: Wow, that’s amazing. How’d you like that, Myla? You got your own concert![Images of Myla Cunanan]
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In Acute Myeloid Leukemia, white blood cells are abnormal and do not become healthy…the patient’s body has a harder time fighting infection.
[Source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital]
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The 5-year survival rate after being diagnosed is 26.6 percent.
[The National Cancer Institute]
Myla Cunanan: It doesn’t matter if you make me sick. You’re just a little thing that could go away soon. I’m stronger than you. I’m braver than you. And my God will help me.
Martin Zerrudo: You believe that?
Martin: And why do you believe that?
Myla: Because I always trust in God. I know He’ll help me through it.
Jillian Foley (UCSF Children’s Hospital Staff): The two words that come to mind for Myla are resiliency, and I would say, humor.
Janelle Facchino (UCSF Children’s Hospital Staff): I met Myla almost 2 years ago in August, and that was when she was admitted, basically, to the bone marrow transplant unit.
Leyna Cunanan (Myla’s Mother): She was 10 years old, [a] few weeks after her birthday. She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia where she had a mass in her chest and had to undergo chemotherapy.
[Video of Myla doing arts and crafts and the hospital]
Leyna: You’re good with arts and crafts, Myla.
Jillian: I think in general, families have described it to us as a big pause or stop button for life.
Leyna: I’ve seen, you know, parents with the same situation, so depressed. So don’t know what to do. They get really, really angry with God. I’m only human.
Martin: Just like any parent, Leyna fights to mask her fear everyday for the sake of Myla. But she hasn’t had to. It’s Myla, who’s been brave for them all throughout this journey.
Martin: Do you feel like you can’t cry in front of Myla? You can’t show her that you have moments of weakness?
Leyna: Yes. I try not to, because she’s so brave that she doesn’t like people crying around her. She makes sure that she makes people smile, even the doctors and the nurses she would make, you know, she would make them laugh. Of course, I would just cry when I pray to God. I never show anybody that I cry. I pour out everything to God.
Martin: Give me three reasons why your mom is brave.
Myla: ‘Cause… she’s just… She’s always the one who tells me everything is going to be fine and we can get through this. She’s always the one who prays with me and talks with me a lot. And she said there’s always a reason why it happens.
Leyna: I believe that, even in sickness, there’s still blessing. Because we felt God was closer to us, and we’ve learned so much. Our faith became mature. But we are so thankful that we are members of the Church, that we have God in our lives. That, without Him, we cannot go through this journey.[Video clip of nurses singing “Jolly-good fellow” for Myla.]
Jillian: My favorite moment which, I think it comes as Myla, is, she already had her bone marrow transplant, and her dad was her identified donor, and his name is Robert. And, she decided to rename herself, because she now had her dad’s cells, and so, she renamed her middle name to Roberta. And so she became, Myla Roberta Cunanan. That just speaks volumes that she, the creativity, and the humor and just the positivity that she has.
Carol Gillespie (Director, AADP): I have to tell you Myla is just an incredible person. And she has an incredible soul. It was her disease, but she didn’t let her disease ruin her life. And she just continued doing what Myla does next: volunteer and help.
Martin: What I’ve learned speaking with Myla is that even though it seems like so many want to help her, to save her; she’s been the one reaching out to save them.
[Video of Myla and her mom]
Leyna: We’re doing her routine walk. Where [are] we going? Which way? Wanna go that way?
Leyna: I’m also getting more brave in sharing my faith. I’m seeing a, you know, a child, so young, going through this hardship and she continues to share her faith. The more, I mean, an adult…Yeah, she inspires me.
Voiceover: A spirit of selflessness that Myla has inspired others to do worldwide. Through her band-aid and bone marrow registration drives.
Carol: Her and her siblings, and her mom come. They were coming every week. And they would make kits for us. This is a simple task, but without those kids, we can’t register donors. So this is what her whole life is about. Really, it’s giving back. She’s just that kind of girl.
Jillian: And I can clearly remember when we were starting to talk about the possibility of her being discharged still being [in] isolation. The biggest question Myla had was, “When do I get to go back to Church? And when do I get to sing in the choir?” And that for me was very striking because that was something she had held onto for almost a year of, “When do I get to go back and be [a] part of that community?”
Voiceover: A spirit of resilience to continue serving God no matter her circumstances.
Carol: I never walked in her room when she was in a bad mood, ever. She’s just incredible and I’ll tell you what got her through it, is her faith. And it has guided her through this entire process, her and her family. The whole family is just a very special family. Some people have faith but they don’t live it. They live it.
Martin: And for all those brethren around the world, what do you want to say to them?
Myla: Thank you for the love, support, and the prayers, and the gifts.
[Video of Myla’s family singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” for Myla]
[Video of brothers singing, “When I’m Weak, I am Strong” for Myla]
[Sister singing for Myla]
Voiceover: No one can erase an illness. Or ask a physician to prescribe an outcome we want. And although Myla and her family continue to seek medical help, they’ve allowed no one else but God, to write her story.
Leyna: He makes things possible when you will think it is impossible. Through Myla, He has shown us that He made us so brave.
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After 2 years and 5 months of in-and-out of the hospital, Myla progresses every day. She is no longer on dialysis. She enters the 7th grade. And constantly uses her talents for God, as a baptized member of the Church Of Christ.
[Video of Myla singing for the EVM Awards]
Myla Cunanan: My name is Myla, and this is my story of faith.