Surviving cancer-A A +A
Sunday, October 21, 2012
SURVIVING cancer. Is it possible? Anyone who has been told that he has cancer would consider it something of a death sentence. How does one cope? Does one cope at all? Is there hope of surviving the dreaded disease?
Fortunately for Cebu, there is a cancer survivorship clinic with the first and only such fully integrated program in the Philippines. The clinic, Cancercare, is located at Robinson’s Cybergate Complex, with Dr. Omid Uy Etimadi at its helm for translational and integrative oncology and cancer survivorship care and oncology rehabilitation. He is with other board-certified oncologists, Dr. Betty Talaver for psycho-social oncology care, Dr. Buenaventura Bill Ramos for cancer co-morbidity management and cancer patient education, Dr. Francis Jayson Villegas for pain management and palliative care and Dr. Melfer Montoya for mind-body medicine.
For cancer nutrition and cachexia management, the clinic has Mark Ong, a registered nutrition dietitian and for pastoral care, Prof. David Mockon.
The cancer survivorship program of Cancercare answers questions a cancer patient may have in his mind like: what foods help to fight cancer, what to eat or avoid during chemotherapy, how to combat weight loss as well as loss of appetite, what phytonutrients are safe, how to beef up one’s immune system, etc.
During Monday, Talavera is there for psychological care. Tuesday is for pain management with Villegas. Etimadi handles evidence-based complementary medicine on Wednesday. Thursday is for diet, nutrition and exercise handled by Etimadi and Ong. Friday morning, Ramos handles understanding chemotherapy and radiation and managing its side effects while in the afternoon, Montoya teaches breathing and relaxation techniques, as well as anxiety and insomnia management. Saturday is for spiritual care under Mockon. The program thus answers everything a cancer patient may have in his mind. Consultation with concerned family members is also available.
Etimadi finished his medicine studies at the Cebu Institute of Medicine and had his fellowship training at the University of Arizona Health Services Center. He also participated in the Dana Ferber Cancer Institute-Harvard Medical School Master Class for Oncologists Program. When he was studying in the United States, he said all cancer patients had to undergo a cancer survivorship program, which is why he decided to initiate the program here. He is happy to note that fellow oncologists have been supportive of the program, which has Dr. Noemi Alsay Uy, head of Cebu Doctors’ Hospital Center for Cancer and Dr. Dennis Tudtud, senior medical oncology consultant and director of Cebu Cancer Institute of Perpetual Succour Hospital as members of the program’s guidelines committee.
Opened in June, Etimadi says the program can increase the chances of surviving cancer by 50 percent. In the few months since the clinic opened, he has had good feedback from those who enrolled in the cancer survivorship program, including its first patient, Bernadette Lu. She came into the clinic with the trademark look of one who has undergone chemotherapy, with a bandana wrapped around her head. But she looked radiantly happy, smiling all the while as if to say “Yes, I do have cancer but yes, I will survive!”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2012.