October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In The Philippines, It Matters A Lot.

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In The Philippines, It Matters A Lot.

Courtesy of Estee Lauder

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Filipinos. This month, it’s time to bring awareness to a disease plaguing the country.

Globally, breast cancer has been touching more and more people, and the numbers are alarming. According to research compiled by Estée Lauder, which for 30 years has been dedicated to breast cancer awareness via the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), among others, approximately 2.3 million new cases were diagnosed in 2020. The disease is also disproportionately affecting marginalized communities: Black women are at a higher mortality risk due to more aggressive variants, AAPI women are experiencing a rise in incidence rates, while Hispanic women and Latinas are also more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age.

In the Philippines, the situation is even worse. According to Dr. Clarito Cairo, the Department of Health’s Program Manager for Philippine Cancer Prevention and Control who spoke at a recent Estee Lauder event, there are about 27,163 new cases each year, making breast cancer the most common type of cancer among Filipinos. And while many successfully undergo treatment, a staggering 27 Filipinos die of breast cancer daily, and, yearly, that number balloons to 9,926.

Thankfully, more and more brands are uniting in the global campaign to raise awareness about the illness both globally and locally. Jewelmer, for example, has partnered with The Kasuso Foundation, a non-profit geared towards indigent patients, while Estée Lauder continues to be a big proponent of the movement, activating annual campaigns in the Philippines and the rest of the world.

One of the recent Manila-based activations of the beauty conglomerate was a gathering at SM Megamall, where doctors and survivors shared their experiences to promote early detection. Dr. Gia Sison, doctor, podcaster, host, and breast cancer survivor, spoke at the event. Dr. Sison recounted her own terrifying experience getting diagnosed and shared an even scarier story of her mom also receiving the same grim diagnosis several years later. Both thankfully have since recovered and the doctor gave tips for patients on how to deal with the bad news, including finding the right support system and being thorough with the questions you bring to your oncologist.

Dr. Gia Sison speaking onstage. Courtesy of Estee Lauder

Another survivor who inspired others with her story of strength and perseverance was Nikoy de Guzman, who serves as the current president of ICanServe Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to early breast cancer detection. She recounted her harrowing experiences of battling the disease twice—first at 28 when her only son was still an infant, and again about a decade later. De Guzman is the third generation of her maternal line to get diagnosed, so her message was geared towards being proactive about getting checked for early detection. This October, join the Pink Ribbon campaign to help #EndBreastCancer and encourage loved ones to self check and get tested.

Nikoy de Guzman speaking onstage. Courtesy of Estee Lauder
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