Dementia ang dahilan kung bakit hindi na aktibo sa showbiz si Caridad Sanchez.
Ang huling regular project ng 87-year-old-actress sa telebisyon ay ang GMA-7 drama series na One True Love na umere noong 2012.
Mismong ang anak ni Caridad na si Cathy Sanchez Babao ang nagkuwento tungkol sa kundisyon ng ina sa exclusive interview sa kanya ng ABS-CBN news reporter na si Mario Dumaual kagabi, October 2, 2020.
Sinabi ni Babao kay Dumaual na late 2015 nang ma-diagnose na may Dementia ang ina.
Nananatili raw itong physically strong, pero paulit-ulit ang mga sinasabi.
"It’s a long goodbye. Over time, you slowly lose the person. You just prepare for it,” ang sabi ni Babao sa panayam sa kanya ni Dumaual, na pumayag ilabas sa PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) ang bahagi ng kanilang pag-uusap.
Nagpasya si Babao na magkuwento tungkol sa sakit ng iginagalang na veteran actress para magkaroon ng public awareness tungkol sa Dementia.
Ayon sa website ng Alzheimer's Association sa U.S., ang Dementia ay "general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life."
Ang Alzheimer's naman ay isang "degenerative brain disease" na sinasabing "most common cause of dementia."
CARIDAD'S DREAM ROLE
Nitong September 17, sa pamamagitan ng isang mahabang post sa Facebook, nagkuwento si Cathy tungkol sa sitwasyon ng kanyang ina.
Panimula niya, "Once upon a time, shortly after I had graduated from college, I asked her what her dream role was.
"'You know, ang gusto ko talagang role na i-portray, yun bang matanda na malilimutin na, pero paminsan-minsan, may moment na nakakaalala pa siya? Kahit walang bayad, gagawin ko iyang role na iyan.'
"The ironies of life. One must really be careful of what one wishes for.
"At this point, I don’t know whether I should be grateful that she’s now, unknowingly, portraying the dream role she had hoped for many years ago.
"Perhaps it will help in the coping, if I reframe things this way. Should I think of it as an answered prayer?"
"MY MOM IS FADING"
Isang grief educator and counselor si Babao sa Ateneo de Manila University.
Ang proseso ng pagtanggap niya sa kundisyon ng ina ay halos kapareho raw ng naranasan niya noong 1998, nang bawian ng buhay ang four-year-old son niyang si Migi, na sumailalim sa open heart surgery.
"My mother is fading," ang sambit ni Babao sa nasabing Facebook post.
"Day by day, week by week. It is the most difficult challenge of my adult life, next to losing my son.
"Anticipatory grief. This is what this is all over again.
"With my son, we had two whole weeks to fight, to hope, to pray that he would get better.
"And when he did not, we had a few days to accept and to surrender.
"Alzheimer’s is a different story. The waiting time is measured in years. It is anticipatory grief because your heart shatters into tiny bits and pieces as the person you once knew and loved fades away.
"She’s there, but she’s not all there.
"You need to find your sense of humor. You need to rise above it. You have to accept it for what it is, and not deny it.
"You empower yourself by reading up about this dreaded disease.
"You have to love at all costs, even if now you have to love from a distance.
"You must never take advantage of the situation. You must do all you can to slow down the progression of the disease. That is the moral thing to do."
REVEALING THE ALZHEIMER'S OF MOM CARIDAD
Isang kaibigan raw ang nag-udyok kay Cathy na isapubliko ang karamdaman ng ina.
Sa pagpapatuloy niya, "I held back about writing about her condition because of who she is.
"But just like how it is with mental health conditions, we add to the stigma if we don’t write or speak up about it.
"A wise friend who had been on a similar journey told me this: 'I suggest you write it, still. Your Mom’s a well-respected figure. No one will mock her for her dementia, your revelation about her going through it is sure to benefit more people.'
"Shortly after her diagnosis, I picked up the book Still Alice by Lisa Genova in an attempt to better understand what was to come.
"Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read the last few paragraphs:
"'You're so beautiful,' said Alice.
"'I'm afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are.'
"'I think that even if you don't know who I am someday, you'll still know that I love you.'
"'What if I see you, and I don't know that you're my daughter, and I don't know that you love me?'
"'Then, I'll tell you that I do, and you'll believe me. And this, is why I write.'"
Noong September 22, inalala ni Cathy sa isa pang Facebook post ang kamatayan ng amang si Vicente Babao.
Dahil biglaan raw ito, marami siyang hindi nasabi noong nabubuhay pa ito.
Aniya, "Today I was thinking how when my dad suddenly died at age 49 from a heart attack, I didn’t get to have the chance to say goodbye. To say all the things I wanted to tell him, to tell him what a great dad he was, and how grateful I was for everything he had taught me and done for me.
"I’ve done that countless times through the years through my writing, in my head, and in prayer.
"Now, perhaps, our Father is giving me this chance at a long goodbye with my mom. To say all the things I need to say, to care for her, and to love her. That thought somehow comforted me.
"Because throughout this long goodbye, though the time may come when she will no longer remember me, I hope she will continue to feel the care and the love. After all, the heart always knows, and never forgets."
Samantala, ipagdiriwang ni Cathy ang kanyang 56th birthday sa October 16.
Bilang bahagi ng kanyang celebration, hiniling niyang magbigay ng donasyon sa Alzheimer’s Association.
Saad niya sa Facebook post ngayong araw, October 3, "I've chosen this non-profit because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope you'll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me. Every little bit will help me reach my goal.
"To eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of Dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's disease."