Pink power

Published May 13, 2022, 9:02 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Introducing a free breast cancer information source made by a high school junior

By CARLA PARAS SISON

In the Pink, a free mobile app and website for breast cancer treatment and management, was launched at the online forum called “Thrive, Not Just Survive” in early May.

Created by a high school junior Mikael Celdran in partnership with ICanServe Foundation, it aims to educate users about breast cancer and create a support system for breast cancer treatment and management in the Philippines.

In the Pink app icon

The app, downloadable for free on Android phones, includes infographics available in English, Tagalog, and Bisaya for users to be educated about their own health, an overview of the risk factors and myths of breast cancer and a step-by-step illustrated guide and video that can teach women how to conduct a breast self-exam. The current directory of hospitals and clinics cater to Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao. Plans to expand its locations are already underway.

“For those who do not have Android phones, it is also a responsive website (inthepinkph.com) accessible to anyone with any gadget—any smartphone, iPad, laptop, even desktop,” said Celdran.

In “Thrive, Not Just Survive,” moderated by TV host and anchor Lexi Schulze, licensed psychologist Lia Delgado-Infante of InTouch Community Services discussed ways of effective self-care to help patients and their families, especially their children, with the stresses of daily life and more so when one family member is diagnosed with a disease like cancer.

“Thrive, Not Just Survive” talk

Celdran, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer before he was born, said, “I learned firsthand—as I’m sure it is the same for many of you—that when a parent or anyone is diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t just affect the patient. We are all touched by cancer. Everyone is affected by it whether cancer comes into our homes before we are born, when we are babies, when we are young, or when we are old enough to fully understand what it all means.”

Delgado-Infante said it was important to be aware of “automatic negative thoughts” or ANTS that pop into one’s mind uninvited and make one feel angry, sad, worried, or upset because these affect behavior while most are not even true. One such ANT is not feeling like sharing one’s feelings or anxiety for fear of being a burden to family or friends. It is important to challenge such negative thoughts with questions like “If my friend had this thought, what would I tell them?” The alternative, she suggested, was to go to a guidance counselor or professional therapist because it is their job to listen without judgment.

In the “resilience toolbox” proposed by Delgado-Infante, it would be important to have resources for better health, composure, and collaboration. She said that health is the foundation of resilience and this includes sleeping well, eating healthy, and exercising regularly, plus regular medical checkups for those 40 years old and above. For composure, she suggested meditation, prayer, and yoga and taught participants how to do “square breathing,” which involves inhaling deeply, holding that breath for a few seconds, exhaling, and then holding that exhale for a few seconds, before repeating the cycle of inhaling deeply and holding the breath for a few seconds.

“Breathing calms the nervous system. Many times when we are triggered, the part of our brain that deals with stressful situations hijacks our whole brain. The part of the brain that is more the thinking part is overcome by the emotional part. Just taking the moment to breathe deeply, and it doesn’t even have to be very long can really reset the nervous system and help us regain composure.

As for collaboration, it means “thriving with others.” Talking to someone you trust, having fun with friends, and joining an online support group are examples of connecting with others and finding your safe space with people.

In the Pink provides access to a comprehensive guide and a list of services and healthcare providers that can help them through their cancer care journey. It also contains a directory of support groups for newly diagnosed patients and cancer survivors.

Celdran will soon add a sub-section called Within the Pink, as a resource corner for children. It will contain a booklist for children of various ages and links to videos and articles that can help those coping with a mother’s breast cancer diagnosis.

In The Pink is currently available for download on the Google Play Store. Non-Android users may also access the information through the website, inthepinkph.com.

 
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