MARIA Brenda Soledad remembered falling terribly ill in 2012 and heeding her neighbors’ suggestions of taking the usual prescription medicine and herbal drugs.
It was only after having herself checked at a hospital did she learn that she had stage three breast cancer.
But even after having herself screened, then 44-year-old Brenda continued taking herbal drugs, afraid of undergoing any surgical procedure.
“But I have realized last year that what I have been doing all those years was wrong. I should not be afraid of cancer and that everyone should not fear it as well,” she told SunStar Cebu.
Four years since her diagnosis, Brenda is still undergoing chemotherapy, among other medical treatments.
She may have lost her mane from all her chemo sessions, but it had fueled her passion to help educate people about cancer.
“It’s good to accept your disease, but it’s better to have your neighbors, friends and family at your back to support you all the way. Doing that starts with education,” Brenda said.
The same advocacy is shared by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) as it officially opened Lopez Jaena St. as the “Pink Street” in line with the Breast Cancer Awareness Month last Oct. 18.
The area, which is among the cultural sites in Cebu City, is now filled with pink banners, giving the place a festive mood. Pink Street is a campaign to help increase public awareness on breast cancer prevention.
A study conducted by RAFI has revealed that breast cancer is the leading cancer affecting and killing women in the country.
In Metro Cebu, at least 2,870 cases of breast cancer were recorded from 2003 to 2012, with 1,428 deaths.
In a press conference, Dr. Michelle Cabañesas of Chong Hua Hospital said it is important to promote an advocacy centered on health care and community effort.
“A holistic approach is needed. We have to accept cancer with a whole heart. We can have our cancer patients and survivors share their experiences, so that we can all have a better understanding of cancer,” she said.
Cabañesas said the barangay health workers play an important role as “teachers” who can share to the community the stories of trials and hope of those who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Cebu City Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos said that on the part of the City Government, it aims to have a community that is well educated in both mental and physical health.
She said that the behavioral health unit in all 80 barangays will include programs that promote awareness on cancer.
“The barangay plays a vital role in this campaign. When one member of the family has cancer, everyone else in the family has cancer in that sense. But there’s always hope,” she said.
Dr. Joselito Almendras of the University of Cebu Medical Center advised everyone to have themselves screened, so that treatment can start as early as possible.
“The treatment for cancer is not surgery alone, there are other ways. It’s a matter of paying extra attention to one’s health,” he said.
Aside from Pink Street, RAFI invited everyone to wear their “pinkest” costumes and join the 14th Moonwalk: A Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness event on Oct. 28.
Moonwalk, a unique advocacy campaign of RAFI held every full moon of October, aims to promote the importance of observing monthly breast self-examination for women aged 20 and beyond.
The assembly area for this year’s activity will be in Fuente Osmeña Circle at 4 p.m. Participants will walk to the Capitol grounds where a short program will be held.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 24, 2017.
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