Manila Bulletin

Faces of Breast Cancer


prayed for acceptance, I began to understand why God allowed cancer in me.”

Having a positive mindset, she says, helped her win against the disease.

“Cancer has shaped me to become a grateful person, even with seemingly trivial things. For example, I love that my long thick hair has grown back, and my nails have turned pink again,” Aromin shares. “Nothing can compare to the joy of carrying a baby in my arms again. Being entrusted with the care of patients is a gift.”

Crisann Celdran, ICanServe foundation chairman Crisann Celdran was just 26 years old when she found out she had stage three breast cancer.

She had just married her best friend and was looking forward to a new, exciting chapter in her life.

“Right in the middle of this so-called perfection, a doctor I went to for no apparent reason felt a palpable lump in my breast. I had not experience­d any pain of any sort,” says Celdran.

She immediatel­y underwent a modified radical mastectomy that left her with a single breast. Celdran also endured six months of chemothera­py and 33 sessions of radiation, which left her bald and exhausted.

In 2005, six years after her diagnosis, Celdran sat down and celebrated with her doctor.

“Although we were both ecstatic to know there was no more cancer in my body, I still wanted a child,” she says. “She did give me a go signal. She never really said it explicitly, but I knew my chances to have a child were slim.”

Despite fears the grueling treatment could have damaged her fertility, Celdran discovered she was pregnant.

“In a month, I was feeling unwell. Instead, I found out I was pregnant. Six weeks later, through my first ultrasound, I found out I wasn’t having a child. I was having two! We were shell-shocked,” she recalls.

Celdran’s doctors expected a difficult and possibly complicate­d pregnancy, but it turned out to be relatively easy. Today, her medical tests still show there is no evidence of the disease.

“Every morning, when my two energetic boys barge in and greet me a great morning, I am reminded that miracles can happen to anyone every day,” she adds.

Rita Nazareno, designer and TV producer

After 24 years of living abroad,

Rita Nazareno left her Emmy Award-winning television career in the US to helm her own label under the heritage of her family-owned business S.C. Vizcarra. But shortly after moving back, she was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.

Nazareno underwent a double mastectomy and endured eight cycles of chemothera­py and 33 sessions of radiation.

“From the onset, I made sure to surround myself with laughter and positivity. It was tough but I had a great support system,” she says. “I learned about mindfulnes­s and awareness. And I had incredible, very lovely people who stuck by me. They wouldn’t let me go.”

Looking back, Nazareno remembers how tough her journey was. “It was after I was cleared and started taking the medication that the depression hit me. But I was able to find resources to help me cope—meditation helped me a great deal,” she says.

Speaking through experience, Nazareno has several tips for those who are currently undergoing treatment: “Keep the music playing, and listen to Lizzo or Janelle Monae. Watch fun movies and TV shows with friends and family. Surround yourself with people who will make you laugh. Celebrate your battle scars and meditate.”

Nazareno has been in remission since 2012. Aside from designing handwoven bags and watching her other creative ideas brought to life by her world-class craftsmen, she is also passionate in supporting breast cancer awareness.

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