It’s hard to believe that it’s now been 24 years of ICanServe Foundation, an advocacy group of breast cancer survivors and volunteers, that promotes early breast cancer detection, access to accurate diagnosis and timely treatment, to survivorship and palliative care, to patient navigation, and to hospice care.
Back in 1999, ICS was founded by four breast cancer survivors, led by Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, Crisann Celdran, Becky Fuentes, and Bet Lazatin. The overriding idea then was to provide valuable information and hope to those suffering from breast cancer, and were bewildered by their situation.
On this 24th year, ICS is proud to go full circle and launch “You Can Do This - A Breast Cancer Patient’s Manual.” It’s a comprehensive resource that’s been designed to support breast cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers, and will be available as a free download in both English and Filipino. The manual was launched Sept. 14, 2023.
Crisann Celdran, still active in ICS as Chairperson, calls the manual, “a love letter from survivors to other survivors and their caregivers and families, and one I wish I had access to back when I was diagnosed.”
This is all especially relevant in light of how in 2020, the World Health Organization called breast cancer the most common cancer in the Philippines - detailing the alarming fact that 70 percent of the women diagnosed were in advanced stages of the cancer; and underscoring the need for early detection, when chances of successful treatment and recovery are much higher.
In format, the manual offers practical knowledge and advice for a person’s cancer journey, and shares heartfelt stories from survivors. It’s a source of information and encouragement. From the medical to the personal and practical, a wide range of topics, facts, and information can be gained from the manual. It has been updated with the latest studies from sources such as the American Cancer Society, the National Integrated Cancer Control Council, and the Philippine Cancer Society.
Current ICS President, Nikoy de Guzman, shares, “We hope this manual sends the message that cancer is not a death sentence. Many things can be done to ease the burden of a cancer diagnosis. No one is alone in her fight.”
The manual’s editor, Alya Honasan chimed in with, “The updated manual is written in layman’s terms to help patients as well as their families and support groups at different stages on the (cancer) journey. It’s a solid valuable reminder that no breast cancer survivor is ever completely alone in this experience.”
And Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala observes that, “What sets apart the ICanServe patient manual is that it is Philippine and patient-centered. To this day, there are gaps in information for the rich, the middle class and the poor. Patients often feel side effects or symptoms that are unacknowledged or unaddressed. We want patients, carers, caregivers, and health providers to form a circle of support for patients… this circle equals hope - the one thing you should never take away from a patient.”
To download “You Can Do This: A Breast Cancer Patient’s Manual” visit https://www.icanservefoundation.Org/patients-Manual.
My sister, Libet C. Virata is a breast cancer survivor, and my mother passed away from cancer back in 1996 at the age of 62; so I’ve always thrown my support to ICanServe and been witness to how it’s grown and evolved over the years.
It’s especially important for the underprivileged, whose resources are limited, and who are very likely contributing to that sad statistic of how over 70 percent are diagnosed at an advanced stage of cancer. Breast cancer is very treatable nowadays, but catching it at an early stage drastically improves the success rate of the treatment.