The killer no woman likes to talk about

Cate de Leon
Filmmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya lost her battle to breast cancer on Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Rappler urges all women to be vigilant against the disease: check yourself NOW.

GMA 7's SARAH LAHBATI is the new face of breast cancer awareness

MANILA, Philippines – “My cousin currently has stage 4 breast cancer,” says rising GMA 7 star Sarah Lahbati on what inspired her to become the newest spokesperson for breast cancer awareness.

“She found out about it too late — two years ago — and by then there was only so much that could be done to treat her.

“Everything happened so fast. I never imagined that one day the disease would happen to someone close to me.”

Sarah’s cousin already had her left breast removed, but had to go in for treatment again due to complications in her right breast.

In the Philippines, breast cancer is one of those topics that many still consider to be sensitive, and is therefore shushed before proper awareness can be shared.

The tragic stories related to breast cancer are the kind no one really likes to talk about. Losing your life prematurely is one thing. It’s a common fear that doesn’t really need that much discussion.

But the possibility of losing one or both breasts is every woman’s nightmare.

It’s shallow to think of it this way, but it can’t be denied that many of us females associate a huge part of our womanhood to our racks. I haven’t conducted a survey to ask for a broader opinion, but as a woman myself, to lose what’s on my chest (while it might not be much) would be the rough equivalent of male castration.

And as it is with our biggest fears, we find it much more comfortable to pretend that the possibility isn’t there. We shove it to the back of our heads with a prayer that it never happens to us.

WALK THE TALK WITH these women (seen here with Avon GM Kanwar S. Bhutani) on October 21. Spread the word about the event and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But the price of this denial has been steep. Not knowing anything with regards to the issue keeps us from being able to detect the signs and therefore be able to nip it in the bud with early treatment — both of which come with a very high chance of survival.

“Most Filipinas aren’t even aware of how pressing the issue is — that it is the number one killer of Filipino women,” Lahbati says on why it is crucial to communicate the importance of breast cancer awareness and breast examination. 

What should every Filipina know about breast cancer? “It’s important to examine your breasts every month after menstruation. It sounds simple enough, but a lot of us treat it with a ‘wala lang’ attitude, like it’s not important. Nasa huli ang pagsisisi.”

It should also be noted that a lot of Filipinas have no idea how to give themselves self-exams, or even what exactly to look for if and when they do.

Through its Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer (KGBC) campaign, Avon seeks to turn the average Pinay into an “agent of knowledge.”

To achieve this goal, they will be touring all around the country educating women on the proper way to do a self-breast exam — providing “breast vests” to help familiarize participants and deepen their understanding on what actual lumps feel like — and have attending physicians administer free breast exams as well.

“It’s very easy to help,” says Lahbati. “Register for the Walk and Run Event on October 21, that will be the culmination of Avon KGBC’s nationwide tour. You can also purchase some of their products.”

Part of the proceeds that come from Avon’s Ultra Color Rich Brilliance Lipstick are earmarked for the breast cancer fund. 

But perhaps the best way to bring the cause forward is to start educating one’s self and then proceed to share awareness with your loved ones and other people around you.

Take time after reading this piece and check yourself now. –

Avon KGBC’s Let’s Walk the Talk Tour will be at SM Davao from October 25 to 28, the last leg of a tour that began in late August. The tour will culminate in a Walk and Run event on October 21 at the SM Mall of Asia open grounds.  

Visit or to register online and for more details.