"I don't deserve this" — Franz Pantaleon

The following article was reprinted with permission from 
Rachel Lee E. Pantaleon and Franz Pantaleon

This is the story of how a benign check-up led to a month-long hospitalization replete with tests and in the final diagnosis…a malignant tumor. This is the plight of our 18-year old son, Franz Felix E. Pantaleon, who has been diagnosed with Extra-Skeletal Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Franz is the eldest of three boys and a college freshman taking up Advertising Management. He is into photography, computer software and gaming, badminton, reading (Neil Gaiman’s graphic novels), writing, cooking Chinese and Japanese dishes, Rubik’s cube and other puzzles, as well as, the obligatory chores.

In the last quarter of 2008, Franz complained on and off of pain on his left flank side, which disappeared when he would take pain-relievers. In November 2008, he urinated with blood once but routine urinalysis was normal and a doctor friend said he probably passed stone; we thought nothing more of it. In early December of the same year we brought him to the pediatrician for a check-up but she did not detect anything and attributed the pain to muscle strain. In January of this year, Franz complained of pain on his right flank side followed by several instances of bloody urine, we brought him to a nephrologist for check-up that same week. An ultrasound of his abdomen revealed a large tumor inside his left kidney, which warranted a nephrectomy or the removal of said kidney.

From January 19, 2009 to February 1, 2009, Franz was confined in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) under the care of a urologist, nephrologist, and an oncologist. During this time he underwent a series of blood tests, ultrasound, and CT-scans. The first time, a nephrectomy was scheduled but was postponed when involvement of the heart was suspected. A thoracic cardio-vascular surgeon was called in and he spoke to us of the possible need for open-heart surgery on top of the nephrectomy. The second time around the scheduled major, major surgery was cancelled. After careful deliberation the expert doctors decided that the risks of surgery far outweighed its benefits, and instead suggested a new drug that targeted renal cells that may or may not shrink the tumor. Even in the absence of a biopsy, we were willing to give it a shot.

Finally, a biopsy of the tumor was done, this in itself resulted to some complications for Franz when blood clots formed in his urinary bladder and he was catheterized and later on underwent emergency cystoscopy for clot evacuation. After two harrowing weeks capped by a blood transfusion, we were discharged while awaiting the result of the biopsy.

Only three days after our discharge, Franz came down with a high fever and difficulty breathing, this coincided with the release of the biopsy result that suggested lymphoma and called for a confirmatory test. Based on the inconclusive result, the new drug was stopped because it was not what he needed. On February 5, 2009, Franz was once again confined in PGH to address his fever and to prepare his healthy kidney to handle possible chemotherapy. The diagnosis of lymphoma was not confirmed and additional tests from National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) needed to be done to determine the diagnosis. A week after his second admission the histopathology result from NKTI came out determining that Franz has Extra-Skeletal Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Without wasting any more time, a Power Port was surgically inserted in Franz’s chest below the right collarbone. Connected directly to his jugular vein, this allowed easy and safe access each time the healing drugs would course through his veins. A couple of days later he received the 1st course in cycle 1 of his chemotherapy. He still has a long way to go in terms of treatment. In his behalf, we have filed for his Leave of Absence from the university while he undergoes medical treatment. Thankfully, his bone scan shows no evidence of metastasis in the bone and we are waiting for the result of the bone marrow aspiration. His care and treatment have been handed over to a pediatric oncologist and she has discussed with us the protocol for Franz’s treatment.

Through all that he has been through, Franz’s faith remains strong. Even as he endured one test after another while doctors tried to determine his illness his belief in God never wavered. “When I pray, I pray that the doctors would find the answers and that God would see me through this. I never doubted that I would be okay.” In fact, visitors in the hospital and doctors alike are amazed at how well he looks – just like any ordinary teen-ager. As Franz likes to say, “Just because I have an illness doesn’t mean I’m sick.”

Since relatives and friends have learned of Franz’s medical condition, the outpouring of prayers, masses, and novenas from different parts of the country and even abroad from as far away as the U.S, Rome, and Indonesia has been overwhelming. Upon hearing of Franz’s desire to go to Disneyland, relatives have pledged an all-expense paid trip to Hong Kong, which he is very much looking forward to. Innumerable acts of kindness have rained on Franz and our family with no act too small to go unnoticed. People close to us, as well as others, who are mere acquaintances, have dug deep into their pockets and given generously from their hearts of their own volition.

When Franz said, “I don’t deserve this,” I thought he meant the disease – that he doesn’t deserve to be sick with cancer. When I probed about what he meant he said, “I don’t deserve all the blessings.”

It is our deepest, greatest hope that with your fervent prayers and help in any form, we may continue Franz’s medical treatment and set him on the road to complete healing and recovery.

Those interested to help can contact Rachel Pantaleon at rachpantaleon@yahoo.com

Paypal Donations are accepted, and bank information will be provided upon request for those who wish to make a deposit in Manila.

Members of Facebook may wish to join the group FOR FRANZ PANTALEON.  This is an open group and everyone is welcome to join.


*Rock for a Reason*

RockEd, an organization that uses the rock music community to support various causes and advocacies, has generously agreed to help Franz by setting up a fundraising gig at SaGuijo on March 26, 2009 (Thursday).

You’re all invited, and do bring as many friends as you’d like – anyone can come and enjoy the music! It’ll be a fun night, with several popular bands in the lineup.

For those who haven’t been there, SaGuijo is a bar in Makati where some of the country’s top bands play.

Entrance fee is P150, which includes 1 local beer. 50% of that will go towards Franz’s medical bills. We’ll also be collecting donations there, so if you’d like to give more than the entrance fee, it would be very much appreciated.

Directions to SaGuijo: From EDSA, take Buendia, then turn right on Pasong Tamo. Turn right on Bagtikan, then take the first left into Guijo St. SaGuijo is on the right, you can’t miss it.

Band Lineup:

South Super Highway
Juan Lunar


Ted Reyes is organizing a benefit concert for Franz on May 29, 2009 (Saturday) at Fontana’s in New York City.

8 PM – 2 AM

Line-up of artists to be finalized.

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