Every October, the world comes together to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We get surrounded by a sea of pink – beauty products, clothing, food, and even buildings that get lit up. There have been advancement in medical research for breast cancer. And the message has always been clear – that early detection can save lives. And yet every year, someone I know gets breast cancer. And from December of last year, I had seven friends who died of cancer (two were male, and of the five females, four had breast cancer). Maybe it’s our age. Maybe I just know too many people.
When I was growing up, no one I knew had cancer. No one in my family had it. None of my parents’ friends had it — until I was a teenager in Toronto, and my mom’s close friend got it and fought it. Just yesterday, I found out two people I know have cancer – breast and esophagus. This is in addition to my long list of survivor friends.
I know way too many people with cancer. And despite how dreadful it is, knowing them gives me hope and strength. And walking them through their treatments has brought me closer to God and made me more aware of my own mortality. My friends who have had cancer are among the kindest and most giving people I know. Maybe its living with gratitude every day that makes them feel the grace of God. From them I learned that cancer isn’t always a death sentence — that early detection saves lives.
I looked through my files and found a lot of pink ribbon campaigns and breast cancer awareness events from the past. My best friend from childhood, Mel Lerma, is the country manager of Estee Lauder. And they are the leading organization in fund raising for breast cancer research. So I naturally supported Mel from Day 1. I also was given the gift of getting to know I Can Serve‘s Kara Magsanoc-Alipala really well. Kara is truly a blessing to so many. She is like a sister – so full of love and clarity. I Can Serve helps a lot of women via high impact information campaigns and community-based screening programs. Then there are prayer warriors outside the pink ribbon campaigns – my brother in law, my spiritual community at my kids’ school, and strangers I see when I sit in random chapels. People fight cancer with information, research, surgery, medicine, and faith.
Here are some photos from previous pink ribbon campaigns and events —
With breast cancer survivor volunteers and I Can Serve’s co-founder Crissan Celdran (on far right). Crissan is a survivor of Stage 3 breast cancer from fifteen years ago. These are the bravest, kindest, and most generous women I know. They provide a community of support.
Recently I learned more about hereditary cancer while hosting an event for Philippine Medical Oncologists presented by Hi-Precision Diagnostics. Hi-Precision Diagnostics is a medical diagnostic clinic that exclusively carries the the Myriad myRisk™ test in the Philippines. About 10% of people afflicted with breast cancer acquired it because of genetics/hereditary.
The Myriad myRisk™ test is the same one that Angelina Jolie took which determined she was carrying a faulty gene known as the BRCA1. This meant she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. This led to her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy and have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. There are many arguments for and against Angelina’s drastic move. You may read Angelina’s journal, “My Medical Choice”.
Though the Myriad myRisk™ Hereditary Cancer Test is a giant leap in detecting potential cancers, it is not a test that’s necessary for everybody. Only those who are at high risk, with family history of cancer, should consider doing this test under the care of an oncologist.
The process is quick and virtually painless. By utilizing blood and saliva samples for their advanced laboratory analysis, as well as a scientifically-proven Hereditary Cancer Quiz, Myriad myRisk™ calculates both physiological and historical risks of cancer leading to a more well-rounded diagnosis. Through this, Myriad myRisk™ provides clear direction for patients for treatment or prevention, through specific medical management recommendations.
Here are some of the tests offered by Hi-Precision — Myriad myRisk™, one of Myriad’s most effective cancer-detection diagnosis, utilizes a 25-gene panel that efficiently and expediently identifies the elevated risks of eight types of cancers, among them breast, ovarian, gastric, colorectal, pancreatic, melanoma, prostate, and endometrial. Providing clear insights into cancer risks among patients by blending genetic testing status with hereditary cancer history, Myriad myRisk™ assesses the possibilities of cancer occurrences in an individual, leading to clinically actionable diagnoses.
For more info on Myriad genetic cancer screening tests —