CLOSE to 200 women in Ternate, Cavite and Bgy. Gulod, Novaliches have availed of the Alagang Breastfriend Mobile Diagnostic Clinic services on its first two runs. The customized Hyundai H350 van, the first of its kind in the country, is expected to be a regular sight in underserved communities across the country, transporting experts from UP-PGH to provide free breast cancer screening and lay forums to women.
With the maiden roll out of the Alagang Breastfriend Mobile Diagnostic Clinic, the first ever in the country, H.A.R.I. Foundation, Inc. and the UP-PGH Cancer Institute are going full-throttle in disseminating critical information and offering free breast cancer screening to women in these communities.
“Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganito,” beamed Ternate mayor, Lambert Bambao, during the first out-of-town medical mission of #AlagangBFF last July 20, 2019 in Ternate, Cavite. This former employee of UP-PGH has never stopped referring his constituents to UP-PGH for treatment.
The second run was on August 24 at the Holy Family Parish of Bgy. Gulod in Novaliches, Quezon City—one of the biggest communities in District 5 with an estimated population of 100,000, much of whom is made up of informal settlers along the Tulyahan River that encircles the area. Ric Idago, Financial Secretary of the parish’s Knights of Columbus chapter, pointed out that said communities would most certainly benefit from #AlagangBFF’s free medical services.
The Ternate and Novaliches medical missions served close to 200 women patients, 10 of which were referred for biopsy. It was the first time for most of these women to receive a comprehensive module on the benefits of early screening and treatment of breast cancer.
On its second run alone, 4 out of the 200 patients screened by Alagang Breastfriend were diagnosed positive for breast cancer and are now under the care of the UP-PGH Cancer Institute. This makes for a significant win, given Department of Health (DOH) figures: one out of every 13 Filipinas can develop breast cancer. Early detection is the key to higher survival rates.
Flor runs a small business in Ternate. She discovered her breast cancer as a young single woman and underwent due surgery. Little did she think that it would recur many years after being married and having children.
“Noong December 2018, kumirot. Napakalaki ng bukol, parang mansanas. Nasa Stage 3 na ako, for 6-cycle chemotherapy … Akala ko mamamatay na ako, pero nabigyan ako ng pagasa. Napakalaki ang tulong (ng Alagang Breastfriend) sa mga taga-Ternate.”
Dr. Gerry Castillo, Tumor Board Coordinator of the UP PGH Cancer Institute, noted, “We get over 5,000 breast cancer patients a month… many can never go back to PGH because they don’t even have funds for their transportation, and we are losing a lot of patients. It is nice to know we can now bring the Cancer Institute to the masses where we are needed the most.”
“What’s good about Alagang Breastfriend is we bring the screening to the community…. we can do the consultation here as well as the mammography and ultrasound and if there is a suspicious lesion, we can do the biopsy right away. That further increases the chance that we catch the cancer earlier on at a stage where it is curable,” shared oncologist Dr. Rich King.
“I am heartened and inspired to learn about the ever- growing reach of our Alagang Breastfriend campaign. Our partnership with UP-PGH is an important step toward fulfilling our shared goal to provide the greater part of society access to important resources and technology that will help improve women’s overall well-being, and enable them to lead healthier, more productive lives,” HFI President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said.