MANILA, Philippines - Fact: The Philippines has the highest incidence rate of breast cancer in Asia and registered the highest increase of 589% among 187 countries from 1980 to 2010.
Early this year, I found myself walking down a dingy corridor hall in one of the old buildings in Binondo.
At the end of this dark hallway we turned left and entered a room that was filled with people waiting in a long line.
Some of them were standing against the walls, the others were sitting on the wooden benches.
We joined the line to wait for our turn with the Chinese doctor.
On that day, we were with a friend’s sister who was fighting stage 4 breast cancer. She’s been to China for another kind of treatment and wanted to give traditional Chinese medicine a try.
She discontinued the herbs anyway and my friend later told me, “She just waited for her time to come, she knew she was dying.”
She lost the fight a few months later, leaving behind her 3 children and husband.
Her suffering is replicated in the Philippines thousands of times over, making breast cancer still the number one killer of Filipino women.
Sarah Lahbati and breast cancer
At 18, Sarah Lahbati, the 5th Startstruck Ultimate Female Survivor, already had a brush with this deadly disease when her cousin was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
“I never imagined that one day (breast cancer) would happen to someone close to me,” she says.
So when Avon approached her with an offer to be the newest celebrity advocate for Avon’s Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer (KGBC) campaign, she felt “very honored and passionate about the advocacy.”
Sarah reveals that as a witness to her cousin’s battle against the disease, she realized that more women should be made aware of the facts surrounding breast cancer.
“Because my cousin found out about it late already, her condition became severe and there was only so much that can be done to treat her,” she shares. “Early detection really is the best defense against breast cancer.”
Kiss cancer goodbye
GOZON, Chairman and CEO of GMA 7
Avon, the beauty brand, is an advocate of the fight against breast cancer.
Avon Philippines launched the Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer campaign 10 years ago in 2002 to raise awareness about the disease and collect funds to establish the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Breast Care Center.
It offers free consultation, initiates support groups for sufferers and provides much-needed equipment to provincial hospitals. The Breast Care Center now serves an average of 150 women daily.
Avon kicked off this year’s campaign with a press event to launch the Walk the Talk campaign, and to introduce Sarah Lahbati as the latest celebrity advocate. GMA Network Chairman and CEO Atty. Felipe L. Gozon and Avon Philippines General Manager Kanwar Bhutani were among the guests who graced the event.
Run (or walk) for a cause
Avon’s Walk the Talk campaign aims to create awareness about the disease and give everyone an opportunity to take part in the crusade.
You can either join the Walk and Run events or donate to the cause. The 20-day nationwide tour itself will feature educational sessions and free breast examinations by physicians.
This tour culminates with the annual Walk and Run events on October 21, 2012 at the SM Mall of Asia Open Grounds.
For a registration fee of Php500 for the 5k event and Php650 for the 10k event, individuals will receive the Avon KGBC Race Kit, that includes a singlet, race number and giveaway. Proceeds will go to the PGH Breast Care Center and selected provincial hospitals.
To join the Walk events, just buy the 2012 KGBC t-shirt for Php220 from an Avon representative.
For every shirt purchased, Php20 will be donated to the PGH Breast Care Center and selected provincial hospitals.