Medical student who endures brain tumor now a doctor, brother too

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DAVAO CITY — “This is God’s Grace,” says Gail Vergara Ontal, the mother of Dr. Merthyll  Gail  Ontal and Jayvee Ontal who passed the recent medical board examinations.

The gift of life given to Merthyll “is really the greatest gift God gave us,” Mrs. Ontal told Merthyll underwent surgery right after passing Physical Therapy  board examination in May of 2015, and while preparing herself to enter the Davao Medical School Foundation, her older brother  JV, also studied at the South Western University in Cebu City.

The family entrusted Merthyll’s health condition to God, “Prayers and Prayers that she will be able to endure while JV inspiring her from a distance, because they were both on internship”.

Everything went well with Myrthyll until May of 2020, while she was having her Post Graduate Internship (PGI), and was on the verge of preparing for the board exam scheduled on November 10 -11 and November 15-16, the bad news broke off—her brain tumor recurred, Mrs. Ontal narrated.

Merthyll cannot miss her duty, “She really sustained and endured, we are in touch because we are far from her,” the family lives in Kidapawan City while Merthyll stays in Davao City for the review. Her aunt Dr. Ruby Vergara Gonzalez, PhD, the school administrator, was always in tow giving Merthyll the support she deserved and took care of her whenever she takes her break from books.

A secret

Her mother knew the problem recurred only last May, but Myrthyll told Newsline, “When I learned about my illness, I told myself, I need to be a doctor so I can have a job and be able to pay for my medications, didto ang hugot (that was the inspiration)”.

She revealed, she felt that her illness recurred late December 2019 “I kept it to myself, I don’t want my family to worry because I am almost there, I endured, tried my best away from disruptions”.

“I cannot miss my schedule, I need to keep it to myself,” she added.

The list of successful examinees

Family support

One cannot imagine the magnitude of support Merthyll and Jayvee’s parent threw to their kids.

During examination, both parents call them to study “Do your best, you can make it,” a routine since day one in med school until the last day of the medical board examination.

Four for days, during the medical board examination their father showed more than love, he spent time “Daddy wakes up at 4 o’clock in the morning, prepare the food for breakfast, pack our food including coffee and other stuff, bring us to Ateneo where the examination was held, fetch us after the exams, when we arrive in our house, he made sure we have good food and soup, he did everything for us,” Merthyll narrated.

Just before they took the examination,  Merthyll and Jayvee made a vow for themselves, “God, help us, We need to do our best, we need to pass the exams, we cannot afford to fail Daddy, Mommy and our family, they did everything for us,” she narrated.

DOCTORS. Merthyll Gail Vergara Ontal and older brother Jayvee (second from left) with their family and immediate relatives.-contributed photo

The moment

At around 11:30 in the evening of November 25, Mrs. Ontal was awakened by loud roars and cheers, she went out and told the kids, “Please keep your voices, you are disturbing the neighborhood”.

It was then that Merthyll and JV announced the good news, “Mommy Doctor na mi, nakapasa ra mi, My!” (Mommy, we are doctors now, we passed).

“I was in cloud-9,  God answered our prayers,” then she hugged her doctors and together they thanked God.

It was Mertyll who was connected to her group via chatrooms, when one of her classmates told her “Merthyll, doctor ka na…  (Merthyll you are now a doctor) Mrs. Ontal narrated, “Merthyll took time to believe because she wanted a document, she shivered, she asked her friend to validate the news she received, it was then she shouted for joy”.

While JV who was already asleep was awakened by  Merthyll’s voice, he rushed towards the living room for fear that a snake was found, but only to realize that he too is now a doctor.

Come January, Merthyll said she will start her residency at Davao Medical School Hospital. She wants to acquire another degree as pediatrician because children are close to her heart, while older brother JV wants to be a surgeon.

Both vowed to serve the people as frontliners and join the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

God’s gift

“Everything unfolds in God’s grace. It is always God, and we thank Him for all these.”

The Ontal couple, Gail being a career employee treasurer while her husband Emidio is an engineer — and both parents are government workers occupying top positions.

The Ontal family claims, “everything is God’s will”. Their eldest son, Julius a nurse, prefer to be in business, while the second child Earl Geoffrey, is a Commerce graduate and now works at the Red Cross. Jayvee and Merthyll, now doctors, while youngest Emee Gaye is still finishing her college degree at the Ateneo de Davao University.-Editha Z. Caduaya/

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