A Filipino cancer survivor recently received a bravery award from one of Western Australia’s major football clubs.
Mel Olivarez, 17, who was diagnosed with acute leukemia in January, was nominated by the Fremantle Hospital and Health Service to receive the MBF Bravery Awards. The Award recognises “not only bravery, but [also admires] the amazing strength and determination of these special young people [in coping with their treatments],” according to a news article posted on the Fremantle Football Club website.
Mel is one of 11 winners of this year’s Bravery Awards. The recipients’ age ranged from two to 17 years. They received toys, vouchers, movie tickets, medallions and a special framed certificate signed by Fremantle Football Club Coach Mark Harvey. The Award is an initiative by the Fremantle Football Club, South Metropolitan Area Health Service and leading health insurer MBF.
Mel was described as a positive person and has shown “bravery during his treatments,” according to the statement from the Fremantle Hospital read during the awarding ceremony last May. The statement also said that staff described Mel “as enthusiastic and high-spirited all of which has helped him to manage his illness.”
Mel has had to endure intensive Chemotheraphy which also meant long stays in the hospital. Despite undergoing treatment, Mel continued with his studies and insisted to do home chores whenever he goes home. He was also undeterred despite the news during his chemo session that a famous Pinoy was also suffering a condition almost similar to his.
Mel is the first of three siblings. His father is a migrant worker for a local electric company while his mother works in a fastfood restaurant. His family had to hold their permanent residency application because of his condition.
Last week, however, Mel’s family received the good news that a confirmatory test yielded negative of cancer traces. Mel’s hair has grown back and he’s now on track to pursuing his studies at TAFE while his family slowly gets back to normalcy.
I talked to Mel recently and he told me that “natutuwa po ako na nakatanggap po ako ng Bravery Award at masaya na magaling na ako (I’m just glad that I’ve received the Bravery Award and that I’m healed).”