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What’s with The Pink Ribbon this month of October

By Ellen Faye Yabut

Retrieved from Department of Health (Philippines) Facebook page


The month of October celebrates the #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth, an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. In the early 1990s, Evelyn Lauder established the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, reinforcing the pink ribbon as a universal emblem for the disease. As they say, the rest is history.

This worldwide celebration serves as a way to convey support for everyone affected by breast cancer through a myriad of initiatives such as screening, access to treatment, and education. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with this year's theme "United We Fight," the Department of Health (DOH) emphasized the importance of regular self-breast examinations and the vital role of screening in the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer among women.

According to the DOH, data obtained from the Global Cancer Observatory (GCO) shows that breast cancer is the most common cancer site and the third leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipinos, following lung and liver cancer.

In response to this public health concern and in accordance with the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, the DOH established the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) to financially support the Cancer and Supportive-Palliative Medicines Access Program (CSPMAP), which is now available in 26 access sites nationwide. 

Moreover, this year, several health institutions, namely the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Region 1 Medical Center, Bicol Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, and Southern Philippines Medical Center will all have access to the 2011 Breast Cancer Medicines Access Program, a government approach that aids in the improvement of cancer patients' recovery and survival rates, as well as their financial difficulties in paying for expensive cancer treatment. Despite the pandemic, the program provided free cancer treatments to over 3,000 patients with breast cancer.

The Department of Health (DOH), cancer patient support group ICanServe Foundation, Philippine Hospital Association, and Novartis have joined together to raise breast cancer awareness through the distribution of patient education videos.

 "Kamay Gabay, Sariling Salat sa Suso" is a Cebuano and Tagalog 4-minute animated series of  Breast Self-Examination (BSE) tutorial videos. Its purpose is to teach Filipino women how and when to do BSE. Check out the video here:

https://www.facebook.com/icanserve/videos/41606880649798

BSE is a method for detecting changes in one's breast. Early detection of any abnormalities in the breast, as well as pursuing early medical advice, will improve the odds of successful therapy. Hence, in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the said collaboration promotes the importance of BSE in age-related breast cancer early detection, prognosis, and prompt medical consultation that will increase the likelihood of successful treatment.

Additionally, Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC) Videos is a set of three 3-minute videos in English, Cebuano, and Tagalog that educate patients on HR-positive and HER2-negative advanced breast cancer. Its goal is to increase awareness about the various types of metastatic breast cancers, emphasizing that not all breast cancers are similar, thereby stressing the necessity of targeted treatment planning.

The videos are available on the DOH Healthy Pilipinas Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DOHhealthypilipinas), ICanServe Foundation Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/icanserve), PHA Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PHA1949/), and Novartis Healthcare Philippines website (https://www.novartis.com.ph/).

“Empowering people with accurate health information is vital in promoting disease awareness and encouraging positive health-seeking behavior,” said Philippine Hospital Association president Dr. Jaime A. Almora.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let's wear our pink ribbons to honor survivors, commemorate those who have fought and passed from the disease, and embrace our journey towards defeating breast cancer.

It's not enough to know it exists. We must act. Let’s fight breast cancer together!