Mother shares daughter’s journey from cancer to top of podium
Daniela dela Pisa is now being invited to join the national team, according to her mother Darlene. 

WHEN Daniela Dela Pisa won gold medals in the recent Palarong Pambansa gymnastics, no one was happier than her mother Darlene Castaneda-Dela Pisa.

The 14-year-old Dela Pisa captured four gold medals in the rhythmic gymnastics secondary girls competition, topping the hoop, ball and rope, along with the individual all-around that gave her the overall championship.

The overall title was the first for the University of the Visayas gymnast.

“Best year namin ito,” said Darlene.

“Lahat nag-aaim ng gold sa Palarong Pambansa. Since nag-start siya ng Palarong Pambansa, siyempre baguhan. Kumukuha siya ng gold at silver pero this year, nag-target kami ng overall championship.”

It was a huge triumph for the Dela Pisas, 10 years after Daniela was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“Para kaming namatayan,” Darlene recalled the feeling after hearing the news. “Hindi namin alam gagawin kundi umiyak na lang kami sa asawa ko.”

But Daniela, whose parents are both former athletes, fought hard.

Surgery was a success, chemotherapy treatment went well, and Daniela wanted to get back on the mat and compete.

“Nag-usap kami ng papa niya, hindi na namin siya ipapa-gymnastics. Alam mo naman, nanay,” said Darlene, also a former gymnast. Her husband Randy Dela Pisa is a former UV baskeball player.

“Pero gusto talaga niya. Umiiyak siya nung sinabi niya na wag na mag-gymnastics. Tinanong namin ‘yung doktor kung puwede pa ba siya pumasok sa sports, sabi naman ng doktor mabuti ‘yun,” said Darlene,

Today, Daniela is disease-free.

She trains regularly and maintains a strict diet, which is a requirement for a gymnast anyway to prevent her from going overweight.

In Ilocos Sur, Daniela claimed the overall championship when she bested Divina Sembrano and Jhazzezelle Louise Limenzon, both from the National Capital Region.

It was a moment that Darlene wouldn’t miss for the world, even though she was hospitalized days before the competition.

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“Na-ospital ako, nag-bleeding ako, na-ospital ako ng dalawang araw. Dapat hindi na ako mag-oospital dahil kinabukasan na ‘yung laro. Pero lumabas talaga ako. Kung wala ako, paano naman ‘yung support ko kung wala ako,” said Darlene.

Bigger things are ahead for Daniela, according to Darlene, as her daughter is being invited to join the national team.

Indeed, it was a memorable year for the Dela Pisa family.

“As in para akong nagpa-fiesta ng isang bayan,” said Darlene.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports