Monday, July 5, 2010

KCAT CAN: An Examined Life

My 1st Column on Manila Bulletin:

An Examined Life
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza
July 5, 2010

I can’t walk, can’t move my left arm and hand, can’t smile, can’t hear — but there are a lot more things that I can do!

Life is tough, there are pains, struggles and hardships, but life is beautiful no matter what... and I am claiming it!

I am Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza, 27 years old,  and everyone calls me Kcat. I am inflicted with a very rare disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) or tumor of the nerves. I have benign tumors in my brain, spine,  and scattered around my body. These have caused a lot of complications like partial paralysis on the left extremities, difficulty in swallowing, facial numbness, deafness and more.

I can’t walk, can’t move my left arm and hand, can’t smile, can’t hear and the list goes on. There are a lot of things I can’t do, but there are a lot more things that I can do. I can’t but I CAN!

I was living a normal life just like everyone else until I was diagnosed with NF2 in 2004. My world turned upside down, and everything changed. The world seemed to be moving so fast just because I was moving slow. I wanted time to stop and wait for me, but it wouldn’t. I needed to move with the world. Just because I’m sick doesn’t mean I need to continue being sick and just lie on my bed and stay at home. Life must go on.

I can’t hear, but I can talk; and I am very talkative!

I can’t walk, but I have a wheelchair and I can still go out and hang-out with my family and friends.

I can’t smile, but I can make others smile and I’m happy about that.

I can’t paint and draw anymore since I’m left-handed and I cannot move it, but I can still use my creativity through doing graphic designs with my right hand.

But despite my condition, I am still Kcat. I can still do what I used to do and I am still me, nothing has changed.


My condition was never a hindrance from doing the things I want to do. As long as I can, I would do it. Besides, life is never hopeless.

I never lose hope and I know I will recover and be able to regain my strength again soon. As of now, there is no cure for NF2, hopefully someday there would be. NF2 is in me, I have already accepted that, and I must live with it happily.

Being able to accept it doesn’t mean I’ll just let it be and do nothing about it. I am still doing my best to get better and fully recover. I still have therapies for rehabilitation and regular check-ups to monitor my condition. I strongly believe that it is through our faith that we are healed. God is the greatest healer!

While I was browsing through the internet, I found a device that could help me hear the world again. I was so excited and a bit sad at the same time because it was so expensive and we couldn't afford it. But I didn’t let that matter disappoint me, instead I kept thinking of ways on how I could raise money for it. I kept thinking and praying until I thought of a great idea!


I went in front of my computer and made my hEAR design. I started selling shirts and set-up an online store. I was able to catch media’s attention and was featured in some TV programs. I use my craft as an artist, I personally design every item and each one has a meaning to me. Through the generous help of many people, I was able to raise funds for my implant and hear the world again.

Having this kind of disease is so expensive.

My regular twice a year cranial MRI/CT scan to monitor my brain tumors, physical therapies, maintenance medicines for my eyes and anti-seizure, and possible surgeries for some tumors that are causing me harm are all expensive. I started raising money for my cochlear implant in 2007 and I am continuously doing my fund drive to sustain my medical needs.

I never question God “WHY?” because I knew from the start that everything has a reason. We are all given a life, but that doesn’t mean we live just by breathing. I am so grateful that I have my family and friends on this journey. They are my blessings!

I need them; and just the same, I know they need me too. That is why I have never thought of giving up.

Life goes on. I believe that every day is a miracle; every hour, every minute, every second and every breath. I have been given the chance to live, so I am choosing to live life to the fullest with all that I am and everything that I have. I always tell everyone that I CAN despite and in spite of everything that I’m going through. I did and I’m doing it now, and so can you? You can! Trust GOD.

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