By: Marika Callangan and Monica Villarica
In the modern world we live in, cancer chooses no particular person. Anyone is prone to cancer. Today, breast cancer is the number one cancer among women now. Yet in a country wherein access isn’t available to everyone, prevention to certain cancers that can be curable are as unattainable as well.
Remi Niola, who comes from the Degenerative Thesis Office, NCDCC, briefs us on the recent outbreak on statistics regarding breast cancer, “There are many causes to breast cancer, na hindi lang na-iinherit, hindi lang ang edad, may mga ibang factors din kelangan isipin katulad nang iyong lifestyle, ang timbang mo (ang paggiging obese), ang pag-iinom ng alcohol at paninigarilyo, at ang pag gamit nang contraceptive pill, at iba pa. Kelangan isipin ang mga ganung bagay.” Because of lack of information on early detection and prevention, cancer still ranks 5th among the top 10 leading causes of death in the Philippines, with breast and lung cancer accounting for 30% of all cancer cases, according to records from the Department of Health.
Cancer does not develop overnight. The tale of Emily Lopez depicts the terrifying permanence of a life taking disease. Emily is cancer patient, age 31, a loan processor from Philippine National Bank, Tokyo Branch. She is the typical modern woman who engages in different vices such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol. She had been abusing her body without her paying much attention to it. It all began with a little lump, wherein the Japanese doctors told her there was nothing for her to worry about. Not really knowing much about the symptoms or effects of breast cancer, she continued on with her life until things started to take a major downhill. Seeking new medical attention in the Philippines, she was then diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Emily underwent an excruciating operation and chemotherapy. It would be safe to say that she did survive this frightful ordeal – at least, until she got pregnant 3 months later. Being pregnant entailed her to completely stop her chemotherapy because of the harmful effects it could do onto the fetus and her stopping chemotherapy gave the cancer cells a chance to come back. Because of her returned sickness, the doctors were forced to do operation on her, resulting to the baby being born on the 6th month, 3 months early from its due date. The baby was born safe, its life support coming only from the incubator. Meanwhile for Emily, the chemotherapy caused a complication, resulting to her developing leukemia, a cancer of the blood. She underwent chemotherapy for that as well, but instead of getting better, she developed an infection in the brain, meningitis, which is the inflammation of the membranes of the brain, the spinal cord and the fluid it is bathed in, the cerebrospinal fluid. The aftermath of this monstrous inflammation was an operation in the brain. The brain being completely damaged, all her organs collapsed and all that awaited for her was death. Her body merely hung onto several life support machines. Most of her family members and friends held on to the hope that she would still pull through. Others believed that it was only a body that was there before them, her soul completely far away from them. Finally, Emily’s life blew out at long last, saving her family the painful decision of committing euthanasia.
While we may know many stories wherein women are survivors of cancer, those who did not must not be forsaken either. They are there to serve as lessons for us, that we must not take our lives for granted for serious consequences lay ahead, whether or not they may be breast cancer or some other illness. Living in a fast-paced world, we tend to abuse our bodies. Cancer develops under too much stress and vices. Too much of everything is never good. Perhaps, if Emily lived her lifestyle a little differently, or if she had been more knowledgeable about the cancer, perhaps things would have taken a different path.
While there are many medical solutions to detecting breast cancer such as breast cancer self examinations and screening, knowledge is still the ultimate power. If people knew more about the cancer in full detail, preventive measures can be taken towards themselves.
These facts imply an important message to women everywhere: not one is exempted from this cancer. To take little things for granted is unwise to do. That is how we can prevent ourselves from going through the same thing Emily did. We must take care of ourselves in order to save ourselves.