Aura Guevarra

The Warrior Within

Aura Guevara’s triumph against cancer

Don’t be fooled with her looks as she isn’t just beautiful and an impressive player—but also a cancer survivor.

Behind the 13 teams and 143 players under the women’s division of the V-LEAGUE WINNIPEG: SEASON 2, Waverley Mitsubishi’s middle blocker Aura Catherine Guevara might have the most inspiring story among all.

Graduated with a degree in Nursing, Guevara has been living her life to the fullest with her three children and a loving husband.  The 33-year-old volleybelle kicked off her volleyball career in college and where she joins intramurals and fortunately, the volleyball women’s varsity team. Her playing career halted after leaving the Bataan Peninsula State University—where she graduated—while migrating to Canada.

When I was in college, I wasn’t really an athletic type of person. But because I was tall [enough], I thought to myself, ‘why not try volleyball?’ I loved it since then,”

But before we delve in to her prowess in the league, let’s find out the story of her real archrival.

It was cancer

In 2014, Guevara was diagnosed with Uterine Epithelioid Leiomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer. The disease is caused by a fleshy tumor invading into myometrial wall and can grow bigger than 5cm—in Guevara’s case, 30cm tumor was extracted from her. That size can be compared to a five-month old fetus.

She was actually having the symptoms—that seemed to be normal—for years like abnormal bleeding and massive pain in the pelvic area. When she went to the hospital while undergoing MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computerized tomography) scan, and ultrasound, the doctors misdiagnosed her with myoma. She was advised to undergo biopsy but to her surprise, they found out that she was two months pregnant. Biopsy is an extraction of tissues in a specific part of the body to distinguish the disease one might have.

They found out that I was 2 months pregnant already so they asked me to choose whether to undergo the biopsy and risk a 5050 chance of my baby surviving [or continue my pregnancy]. I chose to continue my pregnancy.”

Certainly not an easy choice for a mother, Aura endured the pain while carrying the tumor that can cost her life and her baby inside her womb both causing her several disks in the spinal column to slip. 2014, year after she delivered her offspring, she then undergone the procedure of extracting the tumor. But then, the doctors in that hospital can’t tell what kind of tumor it is so they sent it to Mayo Clinic in the US and then the results came.

The oncologist told me that it is an aggressive type of cancer and they gave me two years to live, that was 2014.”

Considering it as a miracle, she managed to finish her battle with cancer through chemotheraphy sessions and with the support of her husband Ernesto, her tatay, and her friends in Canada. She was declared clear by the end of 2015.

Sometimes I will drive myself to my chemotherapy with my 3 kids and drove back home praying that [there’ll be] no uncontrollable symptoms on the roadand God listened.”  

Guevara then got back from playing volleyball again and joined the Waverley Mitsubishi team as their middle blocker. Surprisingly, she even played in the league with her chest port intact before it was removed last March.

Back to the court

Aura’s love for drills makes her one of the most flexible and prepared players in the league—not to mention her punctuality and honesty in matches as she was always prone in touching net violation for being a blocker. In her opinion, their team coach Derek Okabe is one of the strongest among the 13 teams. Okabe also honed Guevara’s strategy in using hand swings with the proper approach to the opponent.

Coach Okabe pushed and encouraged me to develop [my skills]…he was also very patient in teaching and coaching us which made us even more eager to learn.”

According to Guevara, a lot of people has noticed her huge improvement in playing the middle blocker—which she confessed one of the hardest positions to play.

 “Being a middle blocker, I have a love and hate relationship with it as its very hard to play especially I’m overweight…[but] I lost 20lbs because of playing.”

Having her husband support her passion, Guevara has been really eager to play the sport even back in 2011. Back when she still lives in Carman, her husband would drive her 45 minutes to Miami, Manitoba just to play volleyball. She even shared a funny story about shoes.

 “Last year I played in a volleyball league, me and my friends are talking about Mizuno shoes. [Then] my husband heard my friend say ‘Grabe, sa Pinas di kami nakatikim ng Mizuno kasi napakamahal,’ and I was like ‘Oo nga, dukha kasi kami no’n at hindi ko kilala ang Mizuno.haha.’ The next day he told me that we will get something outside and [we] went home with a pair of Mizuno shoes! Love him so much, such a sweety!”

Expecting the league to be more competitive, she equips herself with preparations in order to maintain the prowess of their team Mitsubishi.

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One thing’s for sure, this lady shouldn’t be underestimated.

She fought cancer and now, she’s fighting for the Waverly Mitsubishi. But aside from the intense competition, she also gained friends whom she considered like family.

Showing gratitude to all the people who helped her get through,

I would like to thank my husband for always being so supportive in everything that I do and love. [Also thank you], boss Nestor and the whole V-LEAGUE WINNIPEG organizers. Grateful to play with the group of people with the same passion for the sport. And lastly, I would like to thank God for giving me this talent and strength to play volleyball. I know that my cancer was Him telling me thatHey, Aura. Life is short so do whatever makes you happy.’ It gives me a new and deeper meaning in life.”

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