From: Saint Paul College of Manila High School Class of 75 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A star-studded telethon for breast cancer victims
(Source: Celebrity World by Crispina Martinez Belen, Manila Bulletin 21 Sep 00;http://www.mb.com.ph/ENTR/Cworld/2000/cw000921.asp )
A tri-media campaign against breast cancer has been launched by ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. through the office of its chairman, Eugenio Lopez III. And to culminate the month-long campaign, a five-hour telethon will be held from 7 p.m. to 12 midnight on Sept. 22 over ABS-CBN News Channel 21 (ANC). It will be a star-studded telethon to be directed by Fritz Ynfante who said that this is a most challenging job for him — to make a five-hour event on TV an interesting show that will keep the audience glued to their TV sets. Korina Sanchez of "Balitang K" fame is also at the forefront of this laudable project. Aside from being project director, she will be hosting the telethon billed as "Ang Hinaharap: Pondo Laban sa Breast Kanser."
During the press conference held recently at Taste of LA Restaurant along Roces Ave., Quezon City, Korina said she will be hosting the event with Tina Monzon-Palma, Gretchen Barretto, Kris Aquino, Princess Punzalan, Charlene Gonzales, Agot Isidro, Jackielou Blanco, Dyan Castillejo, Lorna Tolentino and Ces Drilon. Meanwhile, the performers who immediately signified their intention to join the telethon include Kuh Ledesma, Jaya, Dessa, Bituin Escalante, Roselle Nava, Jamie Rivera, Pops Fernandez, Richard Merk and many more. Special guests will be celebrities who had contracted breast cancer themselves or had lost their loved ones to the disease.
Other entertainers are enjoined to participate in this fund-raising which aims to raise P5million for the Philippine Breast Cancer Network (PBCN) initiated by Rosa Meneses, a breast cancer victim who’s only 48 years old. She was diagnosed to be sick of breast cancer three years ago and she was given only a year to live. She noticed a discharge (that isn’t milk although she was still nursing her youngest child then) from her left breast and so she went to the doctor just to inquire about it. The world crumbled upon her when the doctor said she had breast cancer.
Rosa is the only Filipina ever invited to participate in the recent Mt. Fuji Climb in Japan as part of the "Climb Against the Odds" series of expeditions happening worldwide for the cause against breast cancer. Although Rosa was unable to make it to the top (she was too weak to finish it but her Buhawi son did it for her, putting the Philippine flag alongside the others from all over the world at the peak of Mt. Fuji, said her husband Danny).
Rosa and Danny founded the Philippine Breast Cancer Network for the purpose of providing information, networking and support to all those interested in or afflicted by the dreaded disease. It is the only nonstock, non-profit and non-governmental organization in the Philippines today committed to the exclusive issue of breast cancer. Did you know that we have in our midst more than 400 women who, like Rosa Meneses, are waging a day-to-day battle against their common enemy — breast cancer. They have so much to accomplish but are hampered by lack of manpower (there are only four of them members and sadly, they all are sick of breast cancer) and the machinery. So they need to raise funds.
Did you know that this hormonal disease is afflicting more and more Filipino women? Because in the Philippines, we have one of the most polluted bodies of water in the whole world, Korina said. She named Manila Bay which had seen many oil spills, Laguna Lake and of course Pasig River. Where the contamination of the water is high, it was found out that the incidence of breast cancer is also high, Korina added. And she cited conclusive studies made in France and Washington that the environment is accountable to at least 78% of the incidence of breast cancer, an estrogen-dependent disease.
The highest incidence of breast cancer, Korina added, is in San Francisco Bay Area where one out of every eight women is afflicted by the disease.Ten years ago, it was one out of 20. It could be because then the campaign against toxic waste was very strong. Statistics say the highest number of toxic dumpsites are in the Great Lake Area and San Francisco Bay Area. "So where the contamination of the waters is highest, the incidence of breast cancer is also very high," Korina said.
The PBCN is a patient initiative that maintains a patient’s point of view on the issue of breast cancer. "We are joined to provide communication, support and information; to promote education and awareness; and to ensure an independent voice for Filipinos afflicted with breast cancer and at risk of getting afflicted." Danny Meneses said.
It has been reported that the Philippines has the highest incidence rate in Asia today of breast cancer. The PBCN supports a preventive approach to eradicating breast cancer and believes that enough incidence exists to raise serious concern on the environmental link to breast cancer to make this a priority for investigation and evidence-based regulatory action. And the PBCN takes pride in having staged the 1st Philippine Conference on Breast Cancer in l998 and the 2nd Conference in l999.
The PBCN’s mission is "to end breast cancer through action, research and policy initiatives that support (l) replacement of mammography with safer, more reliable screening methods; (2) development of non-toxic and non-invasive treatments; (3) elimination of preventable causes of the disease, including those in the environment; and (4) universal access to the best available health care and information for everyone.
The PBCN’s objectives, on the other hand, are: to sustain a national network of breast cancer victims, survivors, support groups, concerned persons and entities; to engage in massive education and awareness of the causes, prevention and treatment of breast cancer; to provide communication for information and awareness about breast cancer as a major health and environment issue; to help Filipinos afflicted with breast cancer by developing support systems that meet their unique needs; to work and lobby for legislative agenda for the prevention and eradication of breast cancer; and to promote openness and accountability in the research process of breast cancer.
Those who would like to support the project may call up the office of the project director, Korina Sanchez, through tels. 415-02272 local 5371; or 414-2568/2547. Other donations may be called in during the live telethon tomorrow starting at 7 p.m. over ANC Channel 21.
Rosa Meneses’ battle with breast cancer
by :Ching M. Alano 9/17/00 Philippine Star
She had breast cancer and only had two years to live." Rosa Francia Meneses died a thousand deaths as she listened to the doctor’s cold and cruel verdict. Alone, she trudged through the dark and dreary night with pain in her heart.
"Why me? What did I do wrong? What do I do now?" A thousand and one questions raced through her mind as the shadow of death loomed menacingly.
But with the love and support of her family – husband Danny Meneses and their five children Amihan, now 25; Buhawi, 24; Leticia Fortuna, 10; Mary Grace, 5 – Rosa found the courage to face the Big C head-on.
Now, Rosa is sharing her story in the hope that other women with breast cancer will stand up and be heard.
"My story is the same as every woman with breast cancer," says Rosa Meneses, now 48, speaking at the Second World Conference on Breast Cancer in March,
Rosa tells her story:
In February, 1997, after my two-year-old daughter had stopped breast-feeding, I went to a doctor because of a nagging lump in my left breast. I went alone, thinking it was some routine checkup. Nothing prepared me for the shock that followed.
The doctor was not a doctor of my choice. He was referred by my health maintenance plan. After doing a mammogram, he told me I had cancer as shown in the findings and needed to be operated at once. He couldn’t wait for any of my family to even support me after that heartless declaration. I told him I couldn’t have cancer – nobody in my family had cancer. I didn’t know how I got home after that.
When I reached home, my 21-year-old daughter was eager to learn of the result. Suddenly, the tears I had been holding back flowed like Niagara Falls. No words came out but it was enough for my daughter to know that death was casting its shadow on us. My husband had to be brave for both of us. He promised to take me to his childhood friend, a cancer surgeon. I must have been stricken with numbness for I just left everything up to them.
This doctor had me immediately admitted and told my husband I would have to undergo a frozen section biopsy. My husband, who was as ignorant as I was, left everything up to his friend. Again, nothing prepared me for what I found out later on.
They took me to the room when it was still early morning. I regained consciousness early evening. When I opened my eyes, I saw my family and some friends around, grieving over me. I thought I had died. My body felt torn apart, like some blasted wall. I instinctively reached out for my heart where the pain hurt most.
The doctors’ prognosis: I had advanced breast cancer with 16 out of 23 lymph nodes found malignant. I would survive no more than two years without aggressive medical treatment or five years at most.
"Doctors like to play God," there’s bitterness in Danny Meneses’ voice. "The Lord gave us our life and He is the only one who’s supposed to know when that life would be taken away ... I think doctors scare you to death to prop up chemotherapy. Medicine can be such a cold and profitable business ... Pag sinabi nila malala, dapat tanggalin lahat, you can’t say no because you’re ignorant, you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Parang tinakot ka na ang bahay mo inaanay at guguho."
A frail and bedridden Rosa wages a day-to-day battle with cancer. "She is dying," says Danny. "We’re hoping for a miracle."
Rosa was so full of life when she and Danny first met on the campus of the University of the Philippines in the late ’60s. She was enrolled in a bachelor of science course on family life and child development and he was taking up political science.
"We were both student activists," Danny looks back. "We were in third year college and never got to finish school because we went to the hills in 1972. Our first child was born in the mountains. I was on the battlefield and Rosa was in the periphery. We didn’t know if we were going to be alive the next day."
Today, Danny and Rosa are fighting their fiercest battle ever. "I only ask her to live and I’ll do all the work," the ever faithful husband vows.
By work, Danny means the Philippine Breast Cancer Network (PBCN) which he and Rosa with family and friends founded on Aug. 28, 1997. "Our goal is to organize all women with breast cancer to stand up and speak up. We have therapy support systems for victims of breast cancer, and an awareness and information campaign for those who are not victims so they could avoid cancer. We have linkages with the international movement." (Call Danny at 426-31-97 or log on to www.galing.com.)
Determined to crush the enemy that had invaded her body, Rosa armed herself with every weapon she could find. She and Danny devoured every info on breast cancer they could get hold of and went to anybody whom they thought would have the answers to their questions.
She put herself on a strict vegetarian diet to cleanse her body of toxins, Danny points out: oatmeal for breakfast; boiled saging na saba, talbos ng kamote, organic rice and vegetables, deep-sea fish (except tuna) for the rest of the day.
"She’s never had chemotherapy which is the reason why she is still alive today," says Danny. "Had we followed the doctors’ advice, she would have been dead two years ago."
Despite her weakening condition and limited financial resources, a feisty Rosa travelled around the world by herself, battling all odds to reach out to breast cancer victims. "She who nurtures life loses her value – she is cut, burned, poisoned and much worse, deprived of her human rights and robbed of her dignity," she bared her soul and shared her pain before a huge audience at the World Conference on Breast Cancer. "Today, I stand before you as a single-breasted woman with a recurring hurt in my heart."
Rosa’s personal battle with cancer was transformed to a personal crusade against this modern-day scourge.
In May, 1999, Rosa joined women with breast cancer from other parts of the world in climbing Mt. Fuji in Japan. "Cancer is an uphill battle, you take one step at a time, day by day," says Rosa.
Her son Buhawi, who’s better known as the base guitarist of Parokya ni Edgar, accompanied Rosa on the 10-day journey to the top of Mt. Fuji. Rosa stopped on the seventh day as she couldn’t breathe anymore. Buhawi went on to conquer the peak for his mother and plant a little Philippine flag at the top of Mt. Fuji.
Rosa may not have achieved an earthshaking feat but she certainly touched the lives of women around the world. "Cards and letters poured from all over," says Danny.
"To live or even die so that others may live." To this vital goal Rosa and Danny have committed their lives. "We’re so concerned with sensational news on rape and kidnapping, not realizing that the same violence is committed every day on the bodies of hundreds of women diagnosed with breast cancer," Danny laments.
And the fight goes on. On Sept. 22, ABS-CBN in cooperation with PBCN is holdng a five-hour telethon from 7 p.m. to 12 midnight to create public awareness about breast cancer, tell them about Rosa Meneses’ story, and raise funds for PBCN projects. "Our target is at least P5 million," says Danny. "The money will go into info dissemination and a proposed library, among other things."
Perhaps Rosa’s battlecry should be heard around the world: "I may have lost my breast and maybe, I’ll lose my life, but I will never lose my heart. Never wait for death but face it with honor and dignity. Fight back!"