BREAST CAN­CER AWARE­NESS

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page -

Ev­ery­thing is now about COVID, but re­mem­ber the other ‘C’

Dr. Gia Sison, men­tal health ad­vo­cate

It has been seven years since oc­cu­pa­tional medicine spe­cial­ist Dr. Gia Sison won her fight against breast can­cer, but she tells her story like it was just yes­ter­day.

“When a doc­tor be­comes a pa­tient, the lessons learned can rip­ple out­ward,” she says. “I’m used to be­ing the one with an­swers. But as a sur­vivor, I also know what it’s like to be on the other side of the equa­tion — to be the one in need of com­fort.”

Prior to her di­ag­no­sis, she dis­cov­ered a hard lump on her left breast while hav­ing a phone con­ver­sa­tion with her fa­ther.

“I knew right away that some­thing was off,” Sison says. “Fol­low­ing a biopsy, I found out I had stage two breast can­cer.”

For­tu­nately, her doc­tor friend con­vinced her to go through the whole process, from di­ag­no­sis to treat­ment. Sison un­der­went six cy­cles of chemo­ther­apy and turned to her fam­ily and friends for emo­tional sup­port.

“Faith kept me go­ing,” she says. “Can­cer taught me to em­brace life be­cause, at the end of the day, all bat­tles are won by those who re­main grate­ful for what they have.”

Sison’s ex­pe­ri­ence with breast can­cer strength­ened her com­pas­sion as a doc­tor. And now, she leads the Philip­pine chap­ter of the Live­strong Foun­da­tion, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides sup­port for peo­ple af­fected by can­cer.

“To women who are bat­tling the big C, keep fight­ing and fin­ish strong,” Sison says. “Don’t let your di­ag­no­sis de­fine you be­cause your mind­set can be pow­er­ful against can­cer.”

Patti Javier, com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor

Makati Shangri-La Ho­tel com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor Patti Javier has been hav­ing an­nual ex­ec­u­tive check­ups since she was in her late 30s.

In 2013, when a ra­di­ol­o­gist told her he’d found a sus­pi­cious spot in her breasts, she was cer­tain he’d mixed up her re­sults with some­one else’s. Af­ter all, she had no symp­toms, was phys­i­cally fit, and had no his­tory of can­cer in her fam­ily.

“I was never hos­pi­tal­ized my en­tire life,” she says. “I grew up with a pe­di­a­tri­cian mother and I thought I was healthy and in­vin­ci­ble un­til I was told of hav­ing this con­di­tion.”

Right that in­stant, Javier had a biopsy, and her doc­tor di­ag­nosed her with duc­tal car­ci­noma in situ, or DCIS, of­ten called stage zero breast can­cer.

She then pur­sued a treat­ment plan — rad­i­cal mas­tec­tomy and im­me­di­ate re­con­struc­tion — and had a new life out­look.

“When you’re star­ing at some­thing like this, you have to make ev­ery mo­ment count,” she says. “So I paused my ac­tive work life to pre­pare my body and spirit for the surgery, and I prayed, re­flected, and sur­rounded my­self with peo­ple who care.”

Thank­fully, af­ter the surgery, her on­col­o­gists said there was no need for chemo­ther­apy or ra­di­a­tion. “For a brief pe­riod, there was dark­ness, but I knew with­out a doubt that I was go­ing to be well, and that life would go on,” she says.

On re­mis­sion for seven years, Javier has been tak­ing hor­mone ther­apy since.

“I am blessed that my case was de­tected at an early stage be­cause I can use my skills more for a worth­while cause.”

Dr. Jo­ce­lyn Ju­lar­bal-Aromin,

pe­di­a­tri­cian Dr. Jo­ce­lyn Aromin, or sim­ply Joy, is now based in the US but her up­lift­ing story is one for the books.

Aromin is no stranger to can­cer. She was first di­ag­nosed with a ma­lig­nant breast can­cer 10 years ago, which re­curred five years later. She is now in re­mis­sion with her sec­ond bout of breast can­cer.

It was par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing for her to jump roles—from be­ing a doc­tor to a pa­tient.

“Ac­cept­ing my di­ag­no­sis was a process,” Aromin says. “As I

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