Elizabeth Rose “Bibeth” Orteza, performer, writer and TV personality, held the audience at the palm of her hands as she slowly put on make-up while telling her story of anxiety, hope and triumph. Bibeth has been on remission from breast cancer for the past 15 years. She is now the spokesperson of I Can Serve Foundation, a breast cancer information.
She put on make-up phase by phase until she finished her story with her full make-up on. She said the strong support from family members and friends helps one survive breast cancer. It’s not all the physical and medical aspects that matters but more of the psychological, emotional and one’s faith in God, she said. Life continues despite cancer.
October is celebrated worldwide as Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Pink October.
A Breast Screening and Health Forum at the Abreeza Event Center last Thursday, October 17, was attended by more than 200 women organized by Rotarians in the city.
The activity, led by the all-women Rotary Club of Downtown Davao was supported by the Philippine Obstetrical & Gynecological Society, Inc., Southern Mindanao Chapter (POGS-SMC), the Davao Association for Cancer Awareness, Inc. (DACAI). This initiative began in 2012 and soon became an annual breast cancer awareness campaign as more Rotary clubs joined the event.
The objective of the campaign is to inform as many women on breast cancer and help reduce mortality rate. The Oncologists said lives can be saved when cancer is detected early as immediate proper medical management and treatment can be applied.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has considered breast cancer as the second most common cancer, and in the Philippines. The disease ranks as the most common cancer among women. The province of Pampanga has the highest incidence of breast cancer in the country, and the Philippines is the highest in Asia.
There were about 100 women who availed of the free breast screening services. Based on the results, those recommended for mammogram/ultra-sound can have these services for free. RCDD’s Secretary, Dr. Gwendelyn S. Viado, an OB-Gyne is in charge of this program.
The Health Forum was organized and attended by the members of the Rotary Club of Downtown Davao (the host club), East Davao, South Davao, North Davao, West Davao, Central Davao, Sta. Ana Davao, Matina Davao, Waling-Waling Davao, Davao 2000, all based in Davao City, and for the first time, by the Rotary Club of Panglao Island, Bohol.
Members of other institutions and organizations were present, such as the Police Regional Office XI personnel and its Health service staff, the Mindanao Medical Foundation College, Sister of the Mary Immaculate, Jose Maria College, Rizal Memorial Colleges, and the RCDD Rotaract Club of Tecarro College Foundation, Inc.
The Rotary International (RI) District 3860 Governor Philip N. Tan, flew all the way from Cebu, to give his inspirational message. City Health Officer, Dr.Josephine J. Villafuerte, in her message, stressed the importance of early detection of breast cancer and asked women to consult an oncologist for this purpose.
Two young oncologists were invited as resource speakers: Dr. Kenny Jun Demegillo talked on “Prevention and Medical Management of Breast Cancer” and Dr. Joan Fabiosa-Reyes on the topic “Surgical Approach and Management of Breast Cancer.”
Dr. Demegillo took his Masters in Clinical Medicine in the University of the Philippines-Manila. He is currently the Assistant Training Officer of the Medical Oncologist Fellowship Program in Southern Medical Center, and a part-time associate active of the Davao Doctors Hospital.
Dr. Reyes is a breast surgeon, an Active Associate Consultant at the Davao Doctors Hospital, a Visiting Consultant in almost all hospitals in Davao City, and a Medical Specialist of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).
The Pink Zumba Night immediately followed at 5:30 and was participated by about 500 zumba enthusiasts. The Pink October event was under the leadership of DGR-PR Rozanne “Twinkle” C. Gamboa, chair of the District Committee on Pink October and RCDD President Ethel C. Caceres.