Tuesday, October 15, 2019


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Last October 1, I braved the early morning traffic to go to SM San Lazaro, for Pink Ribbon for Breast Canceran event which aimed to learn more about this dreaded disease, how it can be managed, cured - and how to help women be informed on early detection. It was spearheaded by the Philippine Breast Cancer Society (PBCS) and SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, supported by the Department of Health (DOH).  


(L-R) DOH cancer control program manager Dr. Clar Cairo, PBCS president Dr. Victor Gozali,
breast cancer survivors Bibeth Orteza and Melissa de Leon, and host Suzie Entrata-Abrera discuss the importance of breast cancer prevention and intervention during the Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer.

Sadly, the Philippines is one of the countries in Asia with a high incidence of breast cancer. But as cancer survivor Direk Bibeth Orteza has explained "breast cancer detection is not a death sentence". Early detection is in fact is the best way to manage it, and hopefully, defeat it in the long run.

Dr. Melanie T. Cruz, secretary of the Philippine Breast Cancer Society said, "Breast cancer cannot be prevented but the risk can be lowered by changing our lifestyle.  Despite this, it still affects a lot of people, young and old, male and female alike. Our best defense is still early detection. This is the goal of our Pink Ribbon Campaign - to promote breast cancer awareness and early detection.”

Attended by hundreds of women, advocates and volunteer doctors, this year’s Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer focused on educational talks and sharing of experiences by breast cancer warriors. DOH cancer program head Dr. Clarito Cairo conducted a talk on the importance of breast cancer awareness, and at the same time taught women how to detect and be protected against the risk. He also explained the importance of the new cancer bill and how it will benefit Filipino cancer patients.

“Every year, the number of patients suffering from breast cancer continues to rise. This is why we hold the Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer yearly, to continue educating women that early detection and early intervention is very important,” said SM Cares Program on Women & Breastfeeding Program Director Bernadette Velasco.

Celebrity Suzi Entrata-Abrera hosted the event, and inspirational talks from film director Bibeth Orteza and actress Melissa de Leon, well-known breast cancer survivors, were featured. Both survivors stressed the importance of the support and understanding of families of the cancer patients, as well as the community and peer support. Both survivors have started volunteering and use their celebrity influence to disseminate information. Direk Bibeth is a volunteer of ICanServe, while Melissa leads StageZero.

Free clinical breast examination was also administered by volunteer health professionals.

Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer was also held at the event center of SM City Telabastagan.

The Philippine Breast Cancer Society, founded in 2009, is a medical organization dedicated solely to the management of breast cancer. Its members are made up of doctors under different specialties who are kept up-to-date on breast cancer management through annual Breast Cancer Symposium.
SM Cares aimed at supporting the communities where its malls are present. Other SM Cares initiatives for women include institutionalizing breastfeeding stations across all SM Supermalls nationwide as part of its program to provide breastfeeding mothers the convenience and privacy in nourishing their babies. Last August, SM Cares Program on Women supported Breastfeeding Pinays and DOH in the annual celebration of “Hakab Na!” in observance of Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

To know more about SM Cares, you may visit www.smcares.com.ph, www.facebook.com/OfficialSMCares, or e-mail smcares@smsupermalls.com

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