Besides being aware of her enviable height of 5'7" and her chinky eyes, I didn't know much about Cecille. In an interview with her, my first question was, "Who is Cecille Luna?", and her short reply was, "A mother".
Her two-word answer said it all. Without expounding, it revealed where her priorities lie; who she is working for, her raison d'etre. Cecille is mother to 20-year old Carmina Marie who is a spitting image of her, and 13-year old boy Jonah Gabriel. It is interesting to note that, with her daughter at least, Cecille continued a tradition in her family. She is from a brood of six girls, all with names starting with the letter C (Carolina, Cynthia, Caren, Cecilia, Corazon, Christine), and three boys, all with names starting with the letter R (Ramon, Raymundo and Ricardo). Her father is Ricardo Sr. and her mother is Consolacion. Though a big brood, they share a very close relationship.
Cecille amazes me with the ease with which she tackles various computer programs. Her having landed her first job as an encoder at Systems & Encoding Corporation no doubt set the tone for her career which now spans close to 19 years, the last three being with B&M Global Services Manila. Concurrently, she reports directly to Baker & McKenzie, Washington D.C. Previously, she worked for seven years at Harrison Communications, Inc. (a subsidiary of McCann Worldgroup) and for eight years with World Vision.
During her career, she almost always found herself as the first person to try out new programs, software and gadgets. Cecille does deserve to be called a techie. For clarity, "techie" (pronounced tecky) is a derivative of the word technology, for a person who displays a great, sometimes even obsessive, interest in technology, high-tech devices, and particularly computers. Cecille's facility with technology or being a techie tremendously helped her through a dark patch in her life.
In December 2005, Cecille was diagnosed with Chronic Glomerulonephritis, a renal disease characterized by inflammation of the glomeruli, or small blood vessels in the kidneys. In the next three years, she underwent nine operations. Cecile's first operation was the emergency insertion of a tube in her leg for an emergency dialysis, then a fistula in her left arm. The operation was not successful because of the thinness of her vein. She was operated a third time to insert a catheter in her upper right chest, followed by an insertion of a catheter in her neck, and another insertion in her upper left chest. Finally, Cecille had an insertion of an artificial vein in her upper left arm. A month later, Cecille had an infection and the doctors had to remove all the access.
During this period, she had dialysis twice a week which left her weak and unable to work. It was such a trying period that Cecille almost gave up her fight with the disease. Fortunately for Cecille, her new employers at B&M allowed her to work from home so she was able to rest from her treatments and technically did not miss a day of work. Also during this period, her friends from all over came to her aid to help her with her medical bills.
I remember receiving a chain email from her colleagues at Harrison, an email which outlined plans for a concert for her benefit. I don't know what came of the plans, and I don't know who her friends are from the advertising industry. But one thing I do know is that I admired them for the hand of friendship and support that they extended to Cecille.
It is a common belief that when a person starts to undergo dialysis, it will be a process that he has to undergo for the rest of his life. But behold, Cecille received one of her many miracles. In October 2008, her tests showed low levels of creatinine, which astounded her doctors and meant she did not have to undergo dialysis again. That is, until October 2009 when she needed to be operated on again for insertion of access for her peritoneal dialysis that she now does everyday at home. But hey, that in itself is a minor miracle as she does not need to go to the hospital for the expensive procedure. I would like to believe that God will continue to grant her miracles.
Cecille continues to have a positive outlook and is making plans for her future, which includes shifting careers in the next five years. Since she enjoys doing legal work involving Immigration, her next goal is to be a paralegal someday. Being a single parent, she aspires to be a successful mom to her kids and be a good provider to them. And God will continue to listen.
By Frances Peria