Last April 28, Jun De Chavez, father of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 star Chris, celebrated his 60th birthday.
But according to Jun, this was his most special birthday celebration.
Just a few days ago, he, wife Lilia, and sons Chris and Nico were fighting a battle that the world has yet to have an answer for — the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Chris shared to Tiebreaker Times how tough the battle was and how they survived it as a family.
Back in February, the Philippine Men’s National 3×3 Basketball Team, a team which Chris De Chavez was a part of the pool, stopped their sessions in preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament as a precaution to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chris only had one thing in mind during those times — he needed to come home to be with his family in West Orange, New Jersey and, later on, be with his daughter in Florida.
“I wanted to be home with my parents and my brothers. I didn’t want to be stuck alone in my house in Marikina. I also wanted to be home for my daughter,” said Chris.
The 30-year-old Chris was able to book his flight and left the country last March 18.
It was not just Chris who back home as brothers Nico and Carlo also joined him. This was the first time in six years that the De Chavez brothers and their parents were all together under one roof.
“The quarantine forced us to be together again. It’s actually been years since we’re all complete as a family,” quipped the product of Ateneo de Manila University.
Of course, the brothers made the most of that time. But a few days later, the family started experiencing what-they-thought was just a flu.
Testing Positive, Staying Positive
With the sports world at a standstill, Chris, who is a star in Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3, remained in shape by still working out at home. Well, at any point during that time, he might be asked to come back to the Philippines and play basketball.
But suddenly — April 4 to be exact, Chris started experiencing chills and body aches. He did not worry though, thinking that it might just be the classic case of “trangkaso.”
“At first, I thought it were just aches from my home workouts but the aches lasted more than a week,” he recalled, “but I also couldn’t sleep. I was so uncomfortable from the fever and night sweats.”
It was not just Chris who experienced the shivers however. Over in the room beside him, his brother Nico also caught the “flu” while in their master bedroom, his parents had it worse.
“My mom and dad were really, really weak because they couldn’t eat or anything,” shared Chris.
“I could hear my dad groan in pain at night. It was tough.”
When the low-grade fever would not subside, the De Chavez family decided to get tested in the local hospital near them. A day later, the result came out — the family tested positive for the coronavirus. Yes, they were four of the 116,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state that has been marked as ground zero.
Mom Knows Best
For 30 years, Lilia De Chavez has been working as a chief nurse in St. Barnabas Medical Center in nearby Livingston. After years of taking care of other people, Lilia needed to take care of her family and herself.
With the hospitals in their area packed, Jun and Lilia decided that they stay at home. It meant that they had to check Carlo to a hotel for the next two weeks or so.
Despite being with his parents, Chris admitted that he tried to tough it out. But of course, fear would creep in. At the back of Chris’ mind was his uncle Elmer as the 58-year-old had been on a ventilator for weeks in Raritan Bay Medical Center due to the same virus they had contracted.
“Honestly I was confident I could beat it — even at my weakest. I never let it get to the point where I felt mentally weak,” shared Chris.
“But there were times that I was scared.”
Lilia, being a veteran in her profession, did not panic, becoming the rock of the household. Though weak, she and Jun decided to do something different just to breathe properly as their lungs felt congested which resulted to shortness of breath.
“My dad started doing steam therapy. It’s like steaming water with salt and we would inhale and exhale that,” shared Chris. “We also drank a lot of lemon honey and ginger tea.
“Eventually, it felt like my throat started to clear up, my parents and brother could breathe better.”
After six days of doing this for at least thrice a day, everything felt normal to Chris and his family. A few days later, they were free from the disease.
Who would have thought that a simple home remedy would do the trick? Well, Lilia knew.
Carlo De Chavez eventually went back home to join Jun, Lilia, Chris, and Nico after a couple of weeks in a hotel. But even if they were “coronavirus-free”, the family is still continuing to do “steam therapy.”
“It just helps,” said Chris, “and my dad forced us to do the home remedies even though we didn’t want to.”
On the other hand, his uncle Elmer was eventually discharged and was given an oxygen machine he could use at his home. “He’s better too,” said Chris.
For Chris, he had no regrets of coming back home despite what happened to him. Well, the silver-lining he had throughout all of this was that he was with family during the ordeal they faced — just like the good old times.
“I’m blessed that I had my family during these times. We all cared for each other and looked out for each other.
“I also realized that this virus is super serious. We got lucky, to be honest. Anything could have happened to us but from now on, we have to take better care of our health,” said Chris.
Luck? Well, it might have played a part in their recovery but willpower also had a hand in it. Chris, as he said earlier, only had few doubts that he and his family will recover. And that is what he is imparting to the millions of others that tested positive for COVID-19.
“Stay strong and have faith. Times like this will really test your will to get better. You can’t let the virus beat you because it forces you to be in bed all day, not eat, and just be weak.”
Chris will remain with his parents until the time he will be cleared to travel and visit his daughter.
But for now, he’ll just enjoy one more shot of bourbon with his dad, mom, and brothers. One shot to remember.
Chris De Chavez will be a guest on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas LIVE! on Friday, May 1 at 8:00 pm. The show will be streamed on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas’ Facebook page.