Silver Linings ’11

The 3rd Silver Linings on September 17 gathered yet again over a thousand participants, each one reaching out for information and hope.

ICanServe Foundation, with co-presentors Evolife and Philippine Daily Inquirer, mounted the 2011 edition of Silver Linings at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City. An educational forum and homecoming for breast cancer survivors and those who care for them, Silver Linings was first staged in Manila in 2005, and then in Cebu City in 2008.

The day opened as early as 7 a.m. with a snake-like queue of on-site registrants totaling close to a thousand. The program was not due to begin until 9 a.m. With about a hundred volunteers and 687 who pre-registered online, Silver Linings became a singular event in its host city, drawing participants not only from Davao City, but also from Tagum, Panabo, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Zamboanga, General Santos, Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban, Baguio, Olongapo and Manila. Survivors, their spouses, children, and caregivers, as well as doctors, students and health workers flocked together in a compassionate environment, sharing information and inspiring strength in one another. Total registered delegates reached 1,625.

Senator Loren Legarda and actress Dawn Zulueta, both long-time supporters of ICanServe Foundation, graced the opening ceremonies and cut the ribbon for the breast clinic that would offer free clinical breast examinations for women the entire day. Zulueta welcomed the participants, expressing much appreciation for their great enthusiasm in trooping to Davao City for Silver Linings. Legarda listened to a legislative wish list from breast cancer survivors under treatment, including host and ICanServe spokesperson Bibeth Orteza’s pitch for a ‘chemotherapy leave’ separate from the usual sick leave offered by employers.

ICanServe founding president Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala thanked the people of Davao for the warm welcome given to the foundation and its network of volunteers and supporters. Tracing the history of Silver Linings, she said it was borne out of the great demand for information in light of statistics that place the Philippines as having the highest incidence of breast cancer in Southeast Asia, and 9th in the world. Magsanoc-Alikpala spoke of ICanServe’s mission to provide hope and help to women at risk for and living with breast cancer, in particular the commitment of its members to serve through community-based screening programs (like Ating Dibdibin) and high impact information campaigns (like Silver Linings).

Aside from Orteza, moderating a total of 15 break-out sessions from morning until afternoon were ICanServe members, volunteers and supporters: broadcasters Twink Macaraig and Chiqui Roa-Puno, actresses Melissa De Leon and Maritoni Fernandez, singer and newspaper columnist Jim Paredes, personality and image consultant Patty Betita, and ICanServe board member and businesswoman Nikoy De Guzman.

Speakers for the break-out sessions were: medical oncologist Dr. Francis Lopez (What to Expect Beyond Five Years of Cancer Remission); surgical oncologist Dr. Mark Kho (Breast Cancer 101); nutrition expert Dr. Romulo De Villa (Eating Right During Cancer Treatment); Dr. Karen De La Cruz (Breaking the News About Cancer to Family and Friends); Dr. Rudy
Pagcatipunan and Philippine Cancer Society executive director Dr. Rachel Rosario (Managing Side Effects of Cancer Treatments); Patty Betita and Lourdes Pareja (Look Good, Feel Good); Sen. Legarda and Bobbit Suntay of Carewell (Role of Family and Friends); Dr. Honey Abarquez (Stories that Heal); Dr. Gay Lapus (What is Her2 Breast Cancer); Dr. Dennis Tudtud (Cancer Causing Foods); Bobbit Suntay and Jim Paredes (How Husbands Cope); grief counselor Cathy Guballa (Losing a Loved One); fitness guru Tina Aboitiz Juan (Exercise to Strengthen Bone Health); Nadine Tengco (Stress, Fat, Disease, and Diet).

Entertainer Chad Borja, a 13-year thyroid cancer survivor, joined the closing plenary session, Stories of Hope, sharing his own story of hope and rendering heartfelt songs to a swooning, mostly female audience.

Aside from Borja, sharing their stories of hope were breast cancer survivors: Ceres Doyo (journalist); Olive Lamasan (movie-TV director); Melina Avila (engineer/government worker and founder of Tagum-based Living Hope Breast Cancer Survivors Club; Anelle Forbes (corporate executive); Susanna George (researcher/NGO worker); and Norodin Uka (government employee, a male breast cancer survivor).

Performing at both the opening and closing ceremonies were the Sining Tala dance Company. Singer Bituin Escalante, another veteran ICanServe supporter, closed the event with a powerful three-song finale that got all the participants on their feet.

Silver Linings was made possible by Evolife, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Astra Zeneca, C-Network, Innovitelle, Pagcor, GSIS, Unilab, John Paul II College of Davao, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Blugre Coffee and Ristorante Spirale.

Silver Linings was in cooperation with Davao partners: Smiles, Living Hope, Amuma, the Davao Associations for Cancer Awareness Inc., and the Department of Surgery of Davao Doctors Hospital.

Presentations, speakers’ remarks and audio recordings of the day-long activity are currently being uploaded in batches on the ICanServe website, www.icanservefoundation.org. For inquiries, email info@icanservefoundation.org or call +632 636 5578.