The ultimate dream for an active 4 year old boy from Surallah, South Cotobato is to look like his movie idol, Bong Revilla. This rambunctious young boy has the self-confidence, intuitiveness and inquisitiveness of any boy his age. What set him apart from the majority was the medical condition he was born with.
Joseph Foncy Bilbeder was first brought to the hospital at age one year for consultation of his recurring seizures since birth. At that time of his consult, he also presented with high fever. His parents noted that whenever he had a high temperature, his nasal area became enlarged.
In September 2009, he was diagnosed with Frontoethmoidal Encephalocoele. Foncy was born in August 2008 to older parents both aged 42 and has two adult siblings.
Foncy was admitted to the hospital in September 2009 for three days for further assessment of the continuing enlargement of the mass on his nasal area. His first diagnosis was confirmed, and at 4 years of age, he was screened for possible medical intervention by the Canadian Medical Mission Society (CMMS) team.
Upon assessment by the CMMS team, Foncy presented as a happy 4 year old child who seemed unaffected by his medical problems. The mass on his facial area, occluded the vision on his right eye and also pressed his nasal area. In spite of the disfiguring mass on his face, he did not appear to have any psycho-social and emotional problems
Unfortunately, the CMMS did not have a neurologist in the team, but it was decided that Foncy needed immediate medical and surgical intervention. Through the efforts of Dr. Bayani Ignacio, CMMS volunteer surgeon from Sydney, Nova Scotia, he urgently contacted the Hydrocephalus Foundation in Manila through the Philippine Band of Mercy, which arranged for Foncy to be seen right away.
A date for his medical work-ups was set, however, the family did not have the financial means to travel to Manila. Foncy's father is a farmer who earns a meager sum for their daily survival. His mother is not able to help the family financially since she has to look after Foncy at home. Although, his two older siblings are working, they can only contribuite minimally to the family's financial needs.
Realizing the predicament of Foncy's family, the CMMS team decided to take a proactive role to help out the family. We passed the hat around and raised the money needed for their air transportation and living allowance while he is under treatment in Manila.
After Foncy's initial assessment at Jose Reyes Medical Center, the Hydrocephalus Foundation determined that his condition did not fit the classic hydrocephalus case, so they could not grant him the free surgery. At this point, Tess Ang, neice of Dr. Eugene Colobong, a CMMS volunteer dentist, arranged with George Ang, president of the Rotary Club of Manila, to consider supporting the expenses for Foncy's needed surgery. The Rotary Club stepped in immediately and took charge.
After a couple of months' delay in his surgery because of some other medical issues, Foncy finally went under the knife in May 2013 and has since been discharged from the hospital. The next stage of his treatment will be a reconstructive surgery to correct a disfigured nasal area.
Looking at FOncy's recent photo, there is no doubt that he will realize his dream someday. Perhaps, when that day happens, his idol is ready to retire and Foncy can easily step into his shoes.