Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Though breast cancer is also very much a political issue, the Philippine Breast Cancer Network maintains its distance from endorsing or aligning itself with any candidate or party in the forthcoming May 9th elections. Regardless of the results, breast cancer affects all women whatever her political color. To maintain its integrity and advocacy, the PBCN focuses on what needs to be done to prevent breast cancer towards the ultimate eradication of this environmental health epidemic.
Of the following distinctions of the Philippines, what can be said to be lamentable and unacceptable?
1. It is the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia since 500 years ago;
2. It is said to be the oldest democracy in Asia since a century ago;
3. It is the only country in Asia where English is widely spoken since a century ago; and
4. It has the highest incidence rate of breast cancer in Asia and the 10th highest worldwide since the past three decades.
Sadly though, the country’s political system has remained basically feudal and has yet to mature even after having ousted the Marcos dictatorship 30 years ago. Absent of a strong political party system, national public officials have continued to be elected simply based on pure popularity. Being such, legislators have all been ignorant on this public health epidemic and they have all always focused on early detection which is definitely far from prevention. Take for example, Senate Bill No. 1873 authored by Sen. Trillanes, SBN 2114 authored by Sen. Santiago and SBN 354 authored by Sen. Legarda. Worst of all, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s SBN 2114 during the 16th Congress was lifted almost entirely word for word from the US Senate Bill 931 of the 113th Congress.
Early in the term of President Noynoy Aquino, PhilHealth launched a Z Program providing free medical treatment for breast cancer. The PBCN registered its concerns on how the program would result in much over diagnosis and over treatment, other than not being able to cure breast cancer. Then by the latter part of his term, PhilHealth embarked on the wide distribution of contraceptive implants which will place many mothers at very high risk of getting breast cancer later on. At the end of his term, both of these programs will not be evaluated nor will the public ever hear about them because of their failures.
Now even cancer is being used as a vehicle for political office. This Cancer Party List aims for cancer patients and PWD’s to live a life of freedom through access to quality healthcare, medication, and equal rights through the following:
1. Raising cancer awareness
2. The development and implementation of policies that benefit cancer patients and PWD’s
3. The rehabilitation and care of cancer patients and their loved ones.
Are not their aims and goals also of the Department of Health? The PBCN turned down an invitation to join or support this party list primarily because it is no different from the Philippine Cancer Society.
All Presidential, Senatorial and Congressional candidates are thus challenged by the Philippine Breast Cancer Network to enact laws and directives to protect all women from the scourge of breast cancer, a few of which are the following which will not cost government a centavo:
1. STOP mandatory annual chest x-rays for all government employees and make it optional for companies and schools during pre-employment and pre-enrollment. This alone will drastically reduce breast cancer because all women regardless of health status are being unnecessary exposed regularly to at least 1,000 millirads of radiation.
2. STOP the use of hormonal contraceptives in its population control program because breast cancer is a hormonal disease. Women will not be placed at risk of breast cancer when the use of other methods such as condoms and rhythm method are encouraged instead.
3. STOP operations of air-water-soil contaminating industries regardless of environmental clearances - specially identified mining operations that continue to spill cyanide and mercury in the waterways of our country.
4. STOP the use of triclosan and parabens in all productions of various cosmetics and bath soaps/shampoos among other common consumer products. A Safety Chemical Act needs to be legislated to keep our people healthy and not be at risk of developing cancer from these identified carcinogenic substances.
FREEDOM FROM BREAST CANCER!
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Nineteen years ago, on the 10th of February 1997, Rosa underwent a frozen section after having been told it was just a diagnostic procedure, without being informed of likely losing her left breast. She woke up hours later, devastated that she had lost her breast without her consent. That particular day was the start of a personal journey that to this very day has touched countless lives of women facing the same ordeal. She was neither the first nor the only woman to have been traumatized by this unacceptable epidemic but that day ushered in the dawn of breast cancer advocacy in the Philippines.
Rosa moved fast forward, took strong action – being the lone Philippine delegate to the 1st World Conference on Breast Cancer in Kingston, Ontario 5 months later and establishing the Philippine Breast Cancer Network a month after her return home. Rosa had single-handedly changed the landscape of breast cancer in the Philippines in that brief period.
The day of her mastectomy, Rosa became a gladiator enslaved and thrown into the arena of mortal combat. She had no choice but to fight back and this she did to the very end with all her heart and soul with full honor and dignity! And just like Spartacus and Maximus, Rosa’s life and death began a movement to free the slaves. The only difference is that Rosa was a female gladiator in the killing fields of breast cancer.She never submitted to chemotherapy and radiation but instead pursued non-invasive and non-toxic measures.
To this very day, many women continue to be imprisoned by the prevailing ignorance and helplessness brought about by a most obscenely lucrative breast cancer industry. With barely any understanding at all, they are rushed to make hard and fast decisions without knowing all their options and without knowing what to expect from any treatment or intervention. With such blindness, they are led to the arena without the single most important weapon to confront the enemy - that of knowing and understanding breast cancer. They become pathetic torture victims who plead for their lives yet are slaughtered methodically. Their carcasses most often ending up in closed coffins or incinerators due to the severe violence they had been submitted to - with excruciating pain written on their faces that no make-up can hide. Many among them were robbed of the chance to fight back - denied that final victory over death!
It has been 19 years since Rosa lost her breast and the PBCN she started continues to lead the growing army of women breast cancer warriors in attaining their individual victories in the struggle with breast cancer! Despite its gigantic task and meager resources, the PBCN remains undaunted and keeps drawing strength from every breast cancer warrior.
For those who’ve lost their breasts, never lose heart. And for all who have heart, keep your breasts.
“Freedom from Breast Cancer!”