Breast cancer warriors

breast cancer warriors
Not less than 3,000 people flocked at the Plaza Independencia before heading to the Fuente Osmeña Circle in support of the ninth run of Moonwalk, an almost decade-long advocacy on breast cancer awareness.
By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
October 16, 2012

CEBU CITY – More or less 3,000 people in pink walked from Plaza Independencia to Fuente Osmeña Circle last Oct. 2 for the 9th Moonwalk: A Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Moonwalk, which was organized by the Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (EJACC) of Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), in partnership with the Cebu City Government through the Task Force Cancer of Cebu City and cancer support groups, is one of the many activities set in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Ronald delos Reyes, program coordinator of RAFI's EJACC, emphasized to the "Moonwalkers" the importance of early screening and early detection of cancer.

"Women should undergo breast self examination at the age of 20 and clinical breast examination at the age of 30 and regular yearly mammography screening for women aged 50 years old and above," he said.

The Cebu Provincial Police Office and Cebu City Police Office, with volunteers from some barangays, provided security and order during the walk.

Led by the Department of Health-Region 7, Perpetual Succour Hospital, St. Vincent Hospital, and Visayan Community Hospital supported the event.

Cancer support groups who joined are Task Force Cancer of Cebu City, I CAN SERVE Foundation, Cebu Cancer Fight Inc., Cebu Breast Association, CAN with GOD, Destiny Medical Fund Inc., and Kahayag Network of Cancer Support Group.

There were also representatives from organizations such as Cebu Nurses Association, Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation, KALIPI Federation of Women, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Beneficiaries-Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu City Daycare Worker Federation, Rotary Club of Cebu Fuente, Rotary Club of Cebu Fuente-Community Based, Lihok Pilipina Foundation, and GMA Kapuso Foundation.

Active participation from the academe was made possible by Asian College of Technology, Cebu Doctors University, Cebu Normal University, Cebu Institute of Technology-University, Cebu Velez College, South Western University, St. Paul College, University of Cebu Medical Center, University of San Carlos, University of San Jose Recoletos, University of Southern Philippines, and University of the Visayas.

Residents, who were mostly women, from the the barangays of Sambag I, Sambag II, Calamba, Guadalupe, Pardo, Cogon-Pardo, Quiot-Pardo, Sawang Calero, Mambaling, Inayawan, Labangon, Buhisan, San Nicolas, Ermita, Kalubihan, Apas, Kalunasan, Luz, Kasambagan, Banilad, Mabolo, Cogon Central Ramos, Zapatera, Carreta, Sta. Cruz, Hipodromo, Kamputhaw, and Talamban came in throngs.

The event's sponsors were Destiny Medical Fund, DOH 7, She Matters, Goldilocks, Monde Nissin, Hi-Presicion, Alcordo Advertising, and Rotary Club of Cebu Fuente.

During the closing program, Destiny Medical Fund was recognized as Pinkiest Group; Cebu City Daycare Worker Federation, as Liveliest Group; and Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries - Lapu-lapu City, as Best Breast Chant.

These winning groups get to choose a community of their choice where EJACC will conduct free breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Moonwalk is an advocacy that aims to promote a collective effort in fighting breast cancer through a massive awareness campaign focused on the early screening and detection of breast cancer, such as observing monthly breast self-examination for women aged 20 years old and above.

For more information on Moonwalk and EJACC and its services, please contact 254-6351 and look for Gina Mariquit, or visit or

FNRI exhorts local entrepreneurs to adopt commercialization of complementary food and nutrition technologies

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
October 7, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY – The Foods and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology called on the local businessmen and would-be entrepreneurs to adopt the FNRI-developed complementary food and nutrition technologies.

Ms. Ma. Susana Encarnacion, FNRI’s senior science research specialist, made the call during the Nutricomnet media interaction held recently at the Philippine Information Agency Regional Office in Eastern Visayas.

By adopting the FNRI developed complementary food and nutrition technologies, the local entrepreneurs will not only ensure profit but also help alleviate the malnutrition problem in the country, Ms. Encarnacion said.

Encarnacion told the local media that FNRI has developed a wide variety of complementary food blends and snack foods called “Bigmo,” which was derived from bigas (rice) and monggo (mung bean).

“We have Bigmo Rice-Mongo Instant Blend and ready-to-cook Rice-Mongo-Sesame Blend for infants 6 to 12 months old. For older children, we have the Bigmo Rice Mongo Curls, a crispy, ready-to-eat snack rich in protein (2.4 g per serving of 20 g) and energy (94 g per serving of 20 g),” she said.

The complementary foods were developed to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition among targeted underweight 6-35 months old children.

The FNRI-DOST intervention program have so far benefited the children in the pilot areas of Tibiao, Barbaza and Tobias-Fornier in Antique; Paluan, Abra de Ilog and Calintaan in Occidental Mindoro; Mahaplag and Pastrana in Leyte; and Estancia, Balasan and San Dionisio in Iloilo.

Encarnacion said that interested entrepreneurs will only have to invest about P5 million for the purchase of several equipment such as imported twin screw extruder that could produce curls of different shapes at a speed of 80 grams (g) per hour, moisture analyser, electric dryer, octagonal mixer, weighing scale, mixer, impulse sealer and auto pack machine.

The capitalization will lessen with the purchase of a cheaper and locally fabricated extruder that costs only P1.5 million. The machine could produce one shape of curls and automatically packs the product in singles.

Encarnacion further said that the monthly production capacity of 250,000 packs of Bigmo curls at 20 grams per pack would require 133,000 kilograms (kg) of rice; 84,000 kg of mung bean; 2,170 kg of flavoring; and 2,170 kg of cooking oil.

The interested entrepreneurs are entitled to FNRI technical support that includes the layout of the production area, hands-on training on the processing technology, technology-transfer document, and basics on good manufacturing practices implementation.

In order to maintain its standards and strict quality control, FNRI has prepared a recommended layout and a process flow for the Bigmo curls processing plant.

To reach optimum nutrition for all Filipinos, FNRI is also developing other baby food combinations such as cowpea-banana, mung bean-camote (sweet potato)-sesame, germinated rice-mung bean, germinated rice-cowpea and other new flavor combinations.

According to the FNRI, under-nutrition remains to be a public health problem among 0-5 year old children. Two in every 10 Filipino children aged 0-5 years are underweight-for-age and three in every 10 are under-height-for-age or stunted.

These foods address concerns on how to feed babies six months old and onward when their nutritional needs are rapidly growing, vulnerable to malnutrition and infection, and irreversible long-term physical and mental damage, Encarnacion said.

The Technology Commercialization and Transfer where food technologies and nutrition technologies are diffused and communicated to relevant users: individuals, communities, institutions and small to large scale entrepreneurs for adoption and commercialization of technologies, is among FNRI’s several frontline technical services to the public.

How breast cancer screenings can save lives

By CHRISLEY ANN HINAYAS / Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
September 25, 2012

CEBU CITY – Screening remains the primary defense available to women against contracting breast cancer.

“Breast cancer screenings are very beneficial for women. These examinations should be periodically done by women even if they are not suspected of having breast cancer. There will be more lives saved if more women will take advantage of these screenings,” Ronald delos Reyes, program coordinator of Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (EJACC) of Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), disclosed.

EJACC continues to advocate the prevention of breast cancer through screening, more strongly so during October, which is declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when the cancer center will hold the annual “Moonwalk: A Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness”.

This year, Moonwalk will gather hundreds of participants in pink costumes on Oct. 2 and walk together from Plaza Independencia to the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Cebuano women, based on EJACC’s Metro Cebu Population-based Cancer Registry. Delos Reyes added that men are not exempt from contracting the disease.

EJACC records women aged 50-54 years old are the ones most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2003-2007, there are 657 deaths out of the 1,349 breast cancer cases.

“Breast cancer screening means checking a woman's breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. This can help detect cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early on, it is easier to treat,” Delos Reyes explained.

There are three periodic examinations that are employed to screen the breast for cancer. These are monthly breast self-examination (BSE), annual clinical breast examination (CBE), and annual mammography.

Beginning in their 20s, women should do breast self-exam. This examination enables women to be familiarized with their breasts for lumps, changes, or abnormalities in shape or size of the breast, in the armpit area and other areas of the breast.

“Breast self-exam can be easily performed while during bath time. One can discover breast lumps when their skin is moist. Do small circles in up and down pattern in the surrounding area of your breasts by applying light and firm pressure over each area,” he said, pointing out that changes in color and texture of the skin and nipple should also be checked.

Some other things that should be noted during BSE are swelling, nipple pulling inward, nipple discharge (not breast milk), and unusual pain in the breasts.

He said that BSE should be performed five to 10 days after the monthly menstruation period. To those women who no longer have monthly periods, they can do the examination any time of the month.

On the other hand, when women reach the age of 40, an annual CBE should be done by a trained and healthcare professional.

“The annual CBE is a good time for women to learn the proper technique to examine their breasts, ask questions regarding their health, and note any changes or abnormalities,” he said.

Annual mammography, on the other hand, should be done at the age of 40 and above. A mammogram is a low dose X-ray of the breast used to detect abnormalities, including those too small for you or your doctor to feel or see.

All women are at risk of developing breast cancer, he pressed.

“Simply being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer. This is because of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which can promote breast cancer cells,” he said.

He added that those women who have had early menstruation (before the age 12), those who went through late menopausal (after age 55), and women who have not had children or who had their first child after the age of 30 have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

The increase in risks may be due to a longer lifetime exposure to the hormones, estrogen, and progesterone.

“Seventy percent of the newly diagnosed breast cancer cases in Metro Cebu were found in the later stage of the disease. As the cases of breast cancer is becoming higher in number, the best option and the primary prevention is periodic screenings,” he said.

Nutrition and cancer

By RONALD DELOS REYES / Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
September 21, 2012

“We are what we eat” is a worn-out cliché. As simple as it may sound, but it has become difficult for us to make wise decisions concerning our diet, especially when our days are packed.

One of the health diseases that our diet could be a contributing factor of is cancer. Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the country. Often, we equate cancer with helplessness and death but the truth is, cancer can be prevented and the first step is to adopt a healthy diet.

Cancer development depends on family history (genetics), health, nutrition, personal habits, and the environment. But among these causes, healthy diet tops the list in cancer prevention. What we take in for everyday nourishment is the major key to a healthy life.

Nowadays, we mostly eat fatty food like pork and chicken skin, which can increase risk of cancer. Our bodies require a certain amount of fat but an excess of it can be harmful to the body. A high-fat diet tends to be higher in calories and may increase the risk to become overweight or obese, and develop cancer.

We should eat food that are rich in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables, for they lower the risk of developing cancer. Antioxidants act as protective agents of the cells in the body. Foods rich in Vitamin D and protein also aid in blocking cancer-causing chemicals.

Cancers that are linked to certain habits are the easiest ways to prevent, such as those caused by tobacco or cigarette smoking.

We all know that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer. A cigarette contains 100 chemicals and most of them are carcinogenic or cancer-causing.

Also, we should be aware of "secondhand smoke" because there are more carcinogenic chemicals present upon our inhalation. When our bodies are exposed to these carcinogens, our body cells are damaged to a certain extent and their normal function affected.

Alcohol beverages must be taken in moderation. Our alcohol consumption can significantly expose us to acquiring several types of cancer – lung, throat, mouth, and liver cancer.

In preventing cancer, a healthy diet and lifestyle should be coupled with early detection of the disease. Some of the symptoms of cancer do not appear in the early stage. Regular screenings and checkups enable us to be updated on any irregularities happening in our bodies. These can help us in detecting any health diseases at an early stage.

Women should do monthly breast self-examination (BSE) for early detection of lumps surrounding the breasts. Women 40 years old and up should undergo annual clinical breast examination, especially those who have a family history of such type of cancer.

Childhood cancer, however, cannot be prevented.

The reality is, as more and more children are diagnosed and will likely survive with cancer, it is increasingly important to address ongoing and emerging needs of the child and their family to achieve complete and long-term healing.

In Metro Cebu, the Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (EJACC) of Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) offer services for cancer prevention. These include lectures on cancer-related topics and free screenings and diagnostics for patients in Cebu. It also provides assistance for treatment of cancer in early stages and last cycle of chemotherapy treatment, as well as psycho-social support.

EJACC also offer services such as mammography, biopsy, and other tumor markers to help in the early detection of cancer, surgical assistance for our patients in the early stages of cancer, and post-operative follow-ups.

Through the Kahayag Network of Cancer Support Groups, cancer patients and survivors are offered psychological support, through activities like cooking demos, fitness programs, and meditation.

The need of patients for understanding in their struggles they have been through requires the full attention of the family. Thus, family members should provide an environment where the patient can express his/her ill-feelings and uncertainties.

A network among cancer patients and survivors is our way of promoting the idea that even people afflicted with the disease can live normal and healthy lives.

EJACC urges the public to fight against the disease through healthy living, early detection, and other preventive measures.

Critical threshold

September 18, 2012

There is good news. Under-age-five child death rates or "U5MR" were halved between 1990 and 2011. Two decades back 59 kids, out of every thousand births, never made it to age 5.

Despite progress in “U5MR”, we will flub Millennium Development Goal No. 4. That’s the bad news. We’re committed to cut child mortality by two thirds come 2015. We’ll flunk, predicts National Economic Development Authority.

“For every 1,000 children born in the Philippines in 2011, only 25 under five years of age died,” reports Unicef’s mid-September study “Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed”. “This is a 55 percent drop” from “U5MR” levels in 1990.

Globally, “U5MR” slumped 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million last year, the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation also reports. “About 14,000 fewer children die each day than did two decades ago", Unicef's Angela Travis underscores. "Still, almost 19,000 children under five die every day.”

All regions and diverse countries cut U5MR. That sweeps in afluent Oman, middle-income Brazil to impoverished Bangladesh – which posted a remarkable two thirds cut in under-five deaths. Almost half of global under-five deaths were lumped in India, Nigeria, Congo, Pakistan and China.

Unicef’s latest global survey of 169 nations pegs the Philippines into Slot 83. In last year’s study, we landed in Slot 80 among 193 nations. That shoved us almost on par with Dominican Republic but lagged behind Malaysia. Is that good enough?

“Our death is not an end if we live on in our children. For they are us”, physicist Albert Einstein wrote. “Our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.”

This time around, two Asian countries – Japan and Singapore – landed among the world’s top 10 in slashing infant deaths. They ranked alongside Sweden and Norway.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines had the sixth lowest U5MR. Malaysia and Brunei, tied for 7th place. Thailand came in 12th and Vietnam, 22nd. Those who posted higher U5MR were: Myanmar, 47th, Timor-Leste, 51st; Cambodia, 62nd; Laos and Indonesia, 71st.

Odds are stacked against kids born in this country’s penury cesspools. A child delivered in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, for example is four times less likely to reach 5th birthday than a kid born in Metro Manila.

Preventable ailments, like pneumonia and diarrhea, are main infant killers. These two ailments strike down almost 30 percent of infants worldwide. Other killers include: complications and infections a month after birth – the critical “neonatal period”.

Babies born preterm – before the 37th week of pregnancy – are specially vulnerable. “The shorter the term of pregnancy, the greater the risks of death.” Almost a third of infant deaths stem from this one cluster.

“Across the human life span, an individual faces greatest risk of mortality during birth and the first 28 days of life”. About half of Filipino children’s death occurs within this narrow deadly window. Most of these deaths occur at home. Unrecorded, they remain invisible to all but their grieving families.

Almost 90 percent of all child deaths are attributable to six conditions: neonatal causes, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, and HIV/AIDS, World Health Organization notes. These are preventable.

Providing clean potable alone drastically increases chances for child survival. Yet, large majorities, in ARRM provinces, quaff from easily-contaminated wells. These include Tawi-Tawi (94 percent), Sulu (72 percent), Lanao del Sur (69 percent), Basilan (66 percent) to Maguindanao (46 percent).

“There is unfinished business” writes UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Millions of children, under five are still dying each year from largely preventable causes. (There are) proven, affordable interventions. “These lives could be saved with vaccines, adequate nutrition and basic medical and maternal care. The world has the technology and know-how to do so. The challenge is to make these available to every child.”

"In the Philippines, we now need to focus our energies on the neonatal period”, suggests UNICEF Philippines Representative, Tomoo Hozumi. “This is when 45 percent of the under five deaths occur. We need to ensure these young babies, many of them born too soon, don’t die before they’ve barely had a chance to live”.

Among other things, that calls for greater priority – and investment – are adequate sanitation, nutrition vaccination, pre-natal services, etc., these ratchet prospects for child survival and development.

“The first two years of life are a window of opportunity when nutrition programs have an enormous impact on a child's development, with life-long benefits,” International Food Policy Research Institute points out. After age three, economic benefits dwindle to near zero.

Protein energy malnutrition sends more pre-school children to premature graves here, than in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan, World and Asian Development Bank confirm in their joint report: “Early Childhood Development Lack of micro-nutrients sap intelligence quotients. IQs of ill-fed kids can be whittled down by 10 to 14 percent, an ADB study says. This loss is irreversible. “Their elevators will never go to the top floor.” That's layman lingo for permanently impaired lives.

In the 2012 national budget, Malacañang and Congress tacked P200 million in pork to Vice President Jejomr Binay’s office fund of P481.79 million. A government that can underwrite a 260-percent hike for an official can do no less for its kids.

After all, "life is the threshold at which all other hopes begin."