Breast cancer patient groups learn together, work together

This summit follows ICanServe-organized learning events in 2006 and 2010

Thirty-four patient groups were represented by 118 participants at the Patient Power Summit, a gathering of patient advocates from all over the Philippines, held on September 4 and 11, 2021.

Organized by ICanServe Foundation, the activity gave attendees the opportunity to learn from experts about marketing; fundraising; mental health; and where to seek financial aid for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

118 patient advocates from these groups all across the Philippines are real ‘sheroes’

ICanServe chairman Crisann Celdran welcomed the participants, some of them returning advocates from ICanServe’s previous patient summits held in 2006 and 2010. “It’s been so long. I am grateful we have this opportunity to do this again. Even if we have to resort to a virtual one for now,” she said while thanking event partners: AIA Philippines, Bio-ONCO, Pfizer Philippines Foundation, In the Pink, Nestlé Philippines and Skincare for Hope.

This learning activity was made possible by: AIA Philippines, Bio-ONCO, Pfizer Philippines Foundation, In the Pink, Nestlé Philippines and Skincare for Hope

A session moderated by Cancer Coalition Philippines (CC Ph) president Paul Perez, Melina Avila of Living Hope Survivors Club in Tagum City, Marivic Bugasto of Minda’s Buddies in Baguio City, Melissa de Leon-Joseph of Stage Zero by Project Pink in Muntinlupa City, and Karen Lluch of Thrive CDO Breast Cancer Awareness Advocacy Group shared their experiences as founders or active core group members of their respective support groups.

Expert speakers who generously gave their time and shared their knowledge to help patient leaders, dubbed as ‘sheroes’, were multi-talented advertising and film creative Marlon Rivera, marketing and communications guru Matec Villanueva of Ateneo de Manila University; Lia Infante and Ani Mata-Valtersson of InTouch Philippines which runs a crisis hotline as well as counseling services; and Romeo Marcaida of the Patient Services Unit of the Philippine Cancer Society.

Participants also spent time in virtual breakout rooms to discuss ways to help one another, as well as to get to know fellow ‘sheroes’ up close and personal.

CC Ph vice president Menchie Auste helped synthesize the results of group discussions on the second day, with ICanServe vice president Doris Nuval moderating. ICanServe president Nikoy de Guzman and ICanServe spokesperson Bibeth Orteza shared hosting duties for the two days.

The last day was graced by a few words of inspiration from Olympic gold medalist Hidylin Diaz who told the participants, “Huwag kayong susuko. Ang buhay niyo, ang ginagawa ninyo ay inspirasyon sa ibang tao.” (Don’t give up. Your life, what you do, you are an inspiration to other people.)

ICanServe founding president Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala ended the two-day summit encouraging continued collaboration among the participants. “It’s a historical moment in the cancer space, as we witness the evolution of a new frontier we call the patient movement. We’re all founders, pioneers, and first or second generation volunteers. We have to be navigators for each other, as we shape a future, free of cancer… May today ignite our total commitment to end breast cancer,” she said.