A summit of survivors: THE SILVER LININGS BEHIND A BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS

September 24, 2019

Kara is founding president and head of Advocacy Committee of ICANSERVE

Crisann is co-founder, chairman and head of the Gifts/Shop Committee of ICANSERVE

“Every dark cloud has a silver lining”. A passage that may be taken for granted by some, but is taken into heart by many. Among those who truly grasp its meaning are women who are in pursuit of hope, in need of strength, and in search of support through their journey.

With a dream to empower women with essential information and to give them the courage to take that step to recovery, ICANSERVE Foundation made a national cancer forum become a reality with the first-ever Silver Linings in 2005.

This September 28, 2019, ICANSERVE Foundation will stage the fourth installment of SILVER LININGS 2019—a summit for the Philippine cancer community—at PICC. The Summit also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the ICANSERVE Foundation which makes this year even more special.

Gathering the largest number of cancer survivors where every individual is given an opportunity to forge friendships and partnerships with fellow ‘warriors’, the summit aims to give participants courage and to let them know that they don’t have to go through the journey alone.

But what is behind the silver lining? Giving more insight on the Summit, ICANSERVE Foundation founding president and chair-Advocacy Committee Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala and co-founder and chairman Crisann Celdran delve into its inspiration and what people can expect this September.

Kara shares that the idea behind the forum was because of numerous people asking the same questions and bringing up issues with regard to breast cancer. “ICANSERVE Foundation had been in existence for 6 years when we decided to start with Silver linings 2005. During that time, we had been doing high impact media campaigns, but we felt we had to scale up to a face-to-face meeting to be able to deliver and share much needed and accurate information on breast cancer in a non-threatening setting like a doctor’s clinic, the barangay health center, or hospital. So we created Silver Linings, a cozy, homey, happy platform for this purpose.” She adds, “It’s a homecoming of sorts for the sisters you never knew you had. Knowing you’re not alone makes the journey lighter. Silver Linings goes beyond the sisterhood and also addresses the needs of the patient’s family, friends and medical team.”

“For the first Silver Linings forum, the idea was to have topics focusing on awareness, educating people of things that raise their risk of getting breast cancer, balanced with topics that empower, or those that help patients and family members cope better with their ‘new normal’. But the most important outcome is hope for everyone–being in the company of those who have conquered the disease has this halo effect that makes everybody just want to live fully or with purpose,” says Crisann.

Celdran also shared that ICANSERVE is powered by volunteers. “We don’t really have the capacity to mount Silver Linings more often. We held it in 2005, then 2008, then 2011. This year, for ICANSERVE’s 20th anniversary, we felt it was a good time to gather the troops again and do something for our fellow survivors.”

For the 4th installment of Silver Linings, they explained that the topics that will be discussed are important to all participants who are in different stages of their journey. Even those who are not part of the cancer community, they can spend their Saturday at the Summit to either learn something or connect with those in the journey. “In previous stagings of Silver Linings, the closing plenary, Stories of Hope, is what brings the house down. So everybody has to stay until the very end of the program,” Crisann shares.

For Kara, she expounds that the topics during the Summit are always a reflection of the needs of the time and they try to cover as many subjects as possible to be able to reach out to more people. ‘The attack to cancer prevention is holistic, it goes beyond the medical. We seem to have a lot of topics on wellness like nutrition, yoga, meditation, art therapy, healing through storytelling, and spiritual healing. But we also have the basics on breast cancer which always has the biggest audience, or practical help like where to get financial aid, as well as survivorship issues for long-time cancer survivors.”
“We have a global patient leader—Ranjit Kaur Pritam Singh—who is the president of Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia, patient advocate for the Union for International Cancer Control and a member of the executive committee of the Advanced Breast Cancer Global Alliance. She will be giving a talk about women with Stage 4 breast cancer and will also dispel the myth that Stage 4 is the end of the line,” Alikpala adds.

Today, with patients taking on a more active role in their sickness and survivorship as they advocate for others and the community, the Summit will also offer support topics like ‘What Is The Cancer Law?’, ‘How to amplify the patient voice in different settings: from the hospital to a national platform, etc.’, and many other matters that will be of great help for one to be able to share their stories and provide encouragement to others.

During the event, participants can also avail of free X-rays, BMIs, consults with doctors, and many more activities.

Silver Linings is brought to you by Unilab, LifeScience, AC Health, Del Monte, Pfizer Philippines, Roche, the De Guzman group, The Good Seed, Bayo, New World Diagnostics, and Parkway Cancer Center.
Staged by the ICANSERVE Foundation, Silver Linings will be on September 28, 2019 Saturday at the PICC, Pasay City from 8am to 5pm. Registration fee is P500 to include meals.
Pre-registration can be done on-line at http://icanservefoundation.org/?page_id=4787 or on site on September 28.

NOTE: An edited version of this story, written by Visions and Expressions, was published on September 24, 2019 on pages C1 and C2 of Philippine Daily Inquirer.