BAGUIO CITY – Nothing could be more important to a cancer patient than knowing that there is someone who understands, is willing to listen, and can help find needed resources for their treatment.
Dr. Celia Flor Brillantes, city health services office officer-in-charge, during the flag-raising ceremony at the Baguio City Hall grounds on Monday said: “Thankfully, more and more organizations are uniting in the campaign to raise awareness about the illness both globally and locally.”
“We are fortunate to have one group called Minda’s Buddies where patients and survivors draw strength from each other and continue their normal lives. They assist the members in full recovery. Survivors of cancer would become advocates dedicated to early breast cancer detection,” she said.
Marivic Bugasto, president of Minda’s Buddies, in a separate message, said it is not just the Minda’s Buddies that focuses on raising cancer awareness in Baguio now.
She disclosed that a group of young people have also organized themselves and are “doing the rounds like doctors, giving each patient, all cancers patients whether women, men and children, encouragement.”
She said a cancer diagnosis is very overwhelming.
“When you are told that you have breast cancer, the first thing that you will think is that you are dying. But ladies and gentlemen, we, and everyone else in the breast cancer awareness movement say that breast cancer is no longer a death sentence. It is a life sentence because after you get diagnosed, you are guided, navigated, and led to treatment and survival. You live the rest of yourself and your days like it is the last but the world is so beautiful so you aim to continue living,” she shared.
She said Minda’s Buddies is now part of the I Can Serve Foundation, which is the mother organization of cancer organizations in the Philippines and is a part of the Philippine Alliance of Cancer Organization that does networking.
“You know, when you are diagnosed with cancer it is not just cancer that you get sick of, your pockets also develop cancer. So, as an organization, we try to navigate patients through financial aid to officials, the social welfare offices, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, ‘Malasakit Center’ and wherever it is you can find funds for treatment,” Bugasto, a stage 4 breast cancer survivor said.
Diagnosed with the illness in 2005 and going under the knife for three major surgeries on both breasts, she said that she also developed depression after having to see what had happened to her body.
She said her family had to help her accept and realize that she remains the same person God created – with eyes, a nose, and lips that can smile.
She said that after she was diagnosed, she had to shell out PHP140,000 every 21 days to receive the treatment.
“Now you can (get treatment) with PHP6,000 and above. But what is more important is you get treated, that is why we advocate that early detection is the best protection,” she stressed.
Bugasto said that as part of the cancer awareness month, they have organized a free breast screening clinic at Newtown Condo Hotel where the first 15 to 20 clients with suspicious lumps will get a free x-ray mammogram, breast ultrasound, biopsy, and all the needed tests in the process.
“Come and visit, you will not lose anything by coming. Remember, early detection is the best protection,” she added. (PNA)