Rudy Fernandez was always the brave and tough hero in his movies.
This morning at 6:15 a.m., June 7, as brave as he was in his movies and in life, Rudy had to surrender to his fate, ending his two-year fight against cancer. He died at the age of 56, surrounded by his loving wife, sons, and closest friends.
Months before his wife Lorna Tolentino admitted that Daboy—as he was fondly called by his friends and fans—had cancer, a blind item went around about an action star who was discovered to be sick with cancer.
There was another blind item about a veteran action star who cried buckets to a writer turned director when he learned that his friend (another action star like him) was really sick with cancer and not just with a malignant cyst, as earlier claimed by his friend's camp.
The ailing star turned out to be Rudy Fernandez.
Sadness gripped the whole showbiz industry when Lorna announced that her husband had cancer and was in stage 4 of periampullary cancer—an enlargement of the ducts from the liver and pancreas where they enter the small intestines.
The industry had every reason to be deeply concerned; just a few years ago, it lost one of its most respected and beloved icons, the great Fernando Poe Jr.
Daboy felt the love and care of his family and friends while undergoing treatment. His battle with cancer brought them even closer together. Sen. Bong Revilla described Daboy as the "peacemaker" in their barkada composed of Bong, Daboy, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, and Phillip Salvador. Daboy's friends made sure they were always around whenever he needed them and they gave everything they had for their ailing kumpadre.
Until the moment Daboy breathed his last, they were there. It may have been very hard for them to see their dear friend suffering, but Daboy left with a smile in his lips, knowing how well-loved he always was and that, as they had assured him, his friends will take good care of his loved ones.
Here's a chronological list of how Daboy and LT went through the whole ordeal of Daboy's cancer.
Early 2006: Two years ago, Rudy had a recurring fever that attacked him every afternoon. The diagnosis was cancer. The Fernandez family managed to keep it under wraps from the press, but close friends knew about it.
March 2006: His ailment was diagnosed as stage 1. Keeping it from the media, Daboy immediately underwent Whipple operation, a procedure named after American surgeon Allen O. Whipple, who devised it in the 1930s. The highly delicate major procedure (10 hours) involves removing parts of the pancreas, bile duct, gall bladder and duodenum, then suturing the remaining bile duct-intestine connection. Rudy and LT were told that many patients had gone on to live many years after the operation. And, indeed, the actor bounced back.
Answering talks about Rudy having cancer, LT said there was nothing to worry about. She said it was only a cyst that needed to be taken out. Rudy even gave an interview after his operation. "Maganda yung recuperation ko. I even did two teleseryes for GMA-7: Atlantika and Now and Forever," he said.
March 2007: LT admitted in the GMA-7 showbiz talk show Startalk that Rudy indeed had cancer. The cancer came back. Rudy explained, "Any recurrence, stage 4 agad, automatically. They found two lumps in my liver, and another near the pancreas." An oncologist said he had six months to live.
Rudy Fernandez and Lorna Tolentino scheduled a trip to Hong Kong, Japan, and the United States to seek other medical opinions and undergo treatment. After affecting his pancreas, the agressive cancer cells invaded his liver. His doctors informed him that he needed to go through a series of laboratory tests and immediately start chemotherapy.
March 11, 2007: A day after LT's announcement, his close friends organized a surprise party. The ever-positive Rudy Fernandez left a promise only strong men declare: "I ain't gonna die yet!"
May 2007: Rudy and LT went to Tokyo for a cancer treatment called Radio Frequency Abulation, which is done to treat "inoperable tumors" in the liver through energy emanating from radio frequencies.
September 2007: The couple flew to Hong Kong, this time for his PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scan test.
Rudy went under the knife to have a portacatheter inserted. "Para siyang may pacemaker para hindi masyadong masakit sa mga veins niya yung chemo na ginagawa sa kanya," Lorna said.
March 2008: They went to the States to try a new kind of treatment. Prior to their trip, he already had treatment here with "nine infusions."
April 2008: Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in an interview said, "Yung kay Rudy, unfortunately, sa liver niya kumalat." Rudy was supposed to have his revolutionary gene therapy, but they only stayed for four days. He had an obstruction in his billary duct.
"He's in pain," Sen. Bong Revilla said.
May 2008: The action star had stage 4 periampullary cancer. But he was still positive. "Life is not a battle. I love it, I want more of it. That's all I ask, just a little more."
Senator Jinggoy disclosed that Rudy's tummy was already bloated and his eyes and skin were yellowish, all symptoms of the deadly cancer.
His friends offered a healing mass on May 10.
June 5, 2008: Lorna texted her close friends: "I am entrusting his life to the Lord."
June 7, 2008: Rudy "Daboy" Fernandez, 56, succumbed to cancer.