A calm Regine Tolentino faced the cameras last Sunday to announce the shocking news: Her mother, Gina Maristela, has been diagnosed with stage IV bone cancer.
Regine became known as a dance diva in GMA-7's morning show Unang Hirit. Last November, she appeared as a guest judge in the recently concluded reality-based talent search Philippine Idol.
In an S-Files interview last December 10, the actress-dancer-TV host talked about the condition of her mother: "Nung biniopsy siya, there's something going on there. One year na yan. Fourth stage ng cancer of the bones. Di ako makapaniwala dahil my mom is so strong. Hindi ko talaga ma-accept. Nalaman namin late na.
"Hindi natin masasabi kung weeks, months or years. From her first one [chemotheraphy], she's baldado, pati yung boses. Hindi niya kaya ipaliwanag. I've never seen her like that before."
In a phone interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) earlier today (December 11), Regine recalls, "[Her symptoms include] pain in her jaw—akala niya toothache. She kept seeing a dentist for one-and-a-half months. Finally, they told her to go to a doctor for more X-rays.
"[My mother] got a biopsy and it turned out to be lymphoma," she says. (Lymphoma cancer begins in the lymphatic tissues and can invade other organs].
She continues: "I accompanied her when she had an MRI and [we learned] it started in the femur [thigh bone] and it went up. She had her first chemotherapy last Monday [December 4]. She's now resting at home in New Manila, Quezon City."
When asked to describe her mother, Regine says, "She was always defending me all the time. Since dalaga pa ako...I was always misunderstood coz I grew up in the States."
Regine confides, "She's very showbiz. She's more showbiz than I am. She's the life of the party. Her condition now is very different from the way she actually is."
The young star also shares the reaction of her family members to the shocking news. "Lander [Regine's husband] is very supportive. He always comes with us to the hospital to visit [my mother]. She points out that her daughters, Azucena Reigne and Alyssandra Reigen, know that their grandmother is sick but they don't understand how sick she is.
Regine married Lander Vera-Perez—who belongs to the famous clan that put up Sampaguita Pictures—when she was only 18 years old.