Over a thousand breast cancer survivors, supporters and friends filled the Atlantic Room of Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City on September 6 — thirsty for the information and hope promised by Silver Linings 2008, the homecoming of breast cancer survivors and educational forum organized by ICanServe Foundation.

Silver Linings chairman and ICanServe Cebu coordinator Me’Anne Solomon assured breast cancer patients in her opening remarks, “Look two years down the road when your treatments are done, your hair has grown back, and your body has recovered. Believe that you are going to beat the odds even when it doesn’t seem possible…don’t worry about dying. That is in God’s hands.”

Solomon was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2004 and attended the first Silver Linings in Mandaluyong City in 2005. “I have never felt so much love, so much hope,” she said, leading her to volunteer and to have the ICanServe event staged in Cebu City, her hometown.

Singer and stage actress Pinky Marquez, another Visayan, hosted Silver Linings and volunteer doctors, news and entertainment personalities and performers showed their support through a whole day program that catered to patients under treatment and those reclaiming normal life after their bout with cancer.

Aside from Marquez, volunteer moderators for break-out sessions included racer Gaby de la Merced, actress Melissa de Leon, columnist Maricel Laxa, news anchor Twink Macaraig, actress Maritoni Fernandez, radio personality Jude Bacalso, broadcast journalist Karen Davila, and breast cancer survivor and ICanServe volunteer Maritoni Fernandez. The San Diego Dancers of Cebu performed the Sinulog for the opening plenary and singers Raki Vega and Bituin Escalante performed for the closing ceremony.

Delegates from breast cancer support groups in Tacloban, Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Rizal, Manila, Quezon City, Benguet and Cebu province brought their spouses, children, and caregivers to learn the latest in breast care health and total family well-being.

Philippine Cancer Society executive director Dr. Kelly Salvador lauded ICanServe Foundation for organizing Silver Linings. “You should do this more often, not just once every three years,” he told ICanServe founding president Kara Alikpala. The first Silver Linings was held in 2005 in Mandaluyong City and attracted over 700 participants.

Salvador spoke on the topic, “Breast Cancer 101”, held simultaneous with break-out sessions on “Juicing” by book author Brendan McCarthy, “When Cancer Returns” by medical oncologist Dr. Francis Lopez, and “Parenting During Cancer”, a panel discussion with clinical psychologist Dr. Honey Carandang, writer and breast cancer survivor Carla Paras-Sison and student Jessica Orleans, whose mother was diagnosed twice with breast cancer.

Afternoon sessions were headed by surgical oncologist Dr. Mark Kho (Coping with Cancer Treatments), nutrition expert Dr. Romulo De Villa (Eating Right During and After Chemotherapy), Dr. Bill Ramos (Healing through Music, Sound, and Movement Therapy), Dr. Jeanne O Flordelis (Bone Problems for Women with Breast Cancer), Dr. Cecilia Llave (Fertility in Young Women with Breast Cancer), and Dr. Bobbit Suntay and Tito Solomon (How Husbands Cope).

C-Network provided participants with free bone density and fasting blood sugar examinations and the Cancer Care Network of Cebu Foundation arranged for all-day free clinical breast examination, consultation, and breast care tips by Cebu-based doctors led by oncologist Dr. Dennis Tudtud.

ICanServe thanks the following for making Silver Linings 2008 possible: Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino; C-Network; Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation; Pag-IBIG Fund; Philippine Daily Inquirer; Sunday Inquirer Magazine; Cebu Daily News; and ABS-CBN Cebu.

The following also supported the event: Alcordo Advertising; Assistant Secretary Juris Soliman; Big C Magazine; Can With God; Cebu Breast Association; Cebu Cancer Fight, Inc.; Cebu Fame; Dabur Pharma; Department of Health-Region 7; Friendster; Gifts, Toys, Housewares; Havaianas; Hi-Precision; Kahayag Network; Ma. Elizabeth Rose O. Siguion Reyna; Nike Park; Philippine Oncological Nurses Association-Cebu; Pfizer; Profood through Justin Uy; Rotary Club of Cebu Fuente; Rotary Club of Cebu-Gloria Maris; Viscal Development Corporation through Edward Gaisano.

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