Get tested for cancer, advocacy group urges Filipinos

·2 min read
A doctor explains the results on a digital tablet screen of a lung check up from a chest x-ray scan to a cancer patient. (Photo: Getty Images)
A doctor explains the results on a digital tablet screen of a lung check up from a chest x-ray scan to a cancer patient. (Photo: Getty Images)

Advocacy group Hope From Within is calling for Filipinos to “invest” and keep themselves free from the impact of cancer by getting tested, in a multi-stakeholder cancer advocacy summit “Kalayaan ng Kababaihan mula sa Kanser.”

“We should be very vigilant. In any disease especially in breast cancer. The earliest that we can diagnose it, treat it, the higher the curability rate,” medical oncologist Josephine Tolentino said.

“Love yourself. Sometimes, you know tinitipid natin ang sarili natin, tinitipid ang health, but remember this is also an investment,” Tolentino said.

The Department of Health lists cancer as the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality rate in the country, after heart and vascular diseases. And according to a study conducted by the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Human Genetics at the National Institutes of Health, Filipinos die of cancer every hour or 96 every day.

Celebrity actress and cancer advocate Dinane Medina shares about her mother’s battle with cancer, which she calls a “miracle” that she survived for 10 years before finally succumbing to the deadly disease in 2011.

“My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at [the] age of 47, [and] at first she kept going to her cardiologist because of heart problems. Hindi ma-pinpoint kung ano ang mali, until she felt a lump on her breast. (They couldn’t figure out what was wrong, until she felt a lump on her breast.) The doctors told us that she was already in stage 4. There was no chance to live, it was already 50-50 for my mom because of late detection,” Medina said.

She then encouraged Filipinos to get tested.

Ang problema sa ating Pilipino, we are always scared of our diagnosis, the doctors. Don’t! Kung nagpa-check-up agad si Mommy, for sure napakataas ng rate na kasama pa namin ang Mommy namin hanggang ngayon,” said Medina.

(The problem with us Filipinos is we are scared of our diagnosis, the doctors. Don’t! Had my mom checked herself in early, for sure that her survival rate would be much higher, and we could still have her with us now.)

The summit also tackled the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA), passed in 2019 but has yet to be implemented. Dr. Clarita Cairo, Department of Health’s program manager for cancer, shared the development in the implementation of the law, and appeals for more patience from the public.

“Please bear with us … we assure you that we will sustain what we have started … so every family, every Filipino will have the access they deserve,” Cairo said.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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