Cancer Game Plan PH launched; aims for a stronger supportive care systems for patients

Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide and the number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030.

In the Philippines, it is the 3rd leading cause of death wherein 7 adults and 8 kids die everyday because of the disease. This statistics that was gathered in 2017 is alarming because, despite the effort of NGO's and a few government institutions to raise the awareness about the disease, the number of cases still increases each year. 

The cost of cancer treatment is a recurring challenge for both patients and caregivers. As therapies have significant costs attached to them, the imperative then is on policymakers and leaders to provide better support systems that make access more affordable - especially to those who most need it. 

Cancer Game Plan Ambassadors (L to R) : Mr. Danny Dimabuyu, Ms. Susan Africa and Dr. Gia Sison doing the ceremonial gesture

As a firm response to the growing threat and impact of cancer to Filipino patients, a multi-stakeholder gathering was held to publicly launch Cancer Game Plan PH. It is a movement and an advocacy that aims to help arm patients with the necessary resources for them to effectively fight the dreaded disease.

Pillars of the advocacy include the promotion of early detection through testing, the building of solid support systems that address patient needs from the onset, as well as increasing access to treatments which oftentimes cannot be availed due to their costly nature.

An expanded plan stemming from last year's Hope from Within campaign, the Cancer Game Plan PH is geared to systematically change the face of disease care -  highlighting existing targeted therapies and breakthrough new treatments - such as immunotherapy - that address a greater body of cancers, effectively helping many patients in their journey to be better. 

Cancer Game Plan PH expands this scope, in particular, to include in addition to lung cancer : melanoma, head and neck, gastric, bladder, and Hodgkin lymphoma types of cancers.

Representatives from the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations (PAPO), Philippines Society of Medical Oncologists (PSMO), Sunlife Insurance Corporation, and Cancer Coalition of the Philippines (CCP), together with the newly -introduced Cancer Game Plan PH influencers, provided a diverse set of clear perspectives on the advocacy and the plan.

Influencers (L to R) Diego Castro, Susan Africa, Dr. Meredith garcia, Dr. Gia Sison and Danny Dimabuyu with Ms. Fatima Lorenzo, President of PAPO (2nd fr left)

The following are the Cancer Game Plan PH influencers who shared personal stories that put a fiercer spotlight on the importance of a proper and reliable support system in the cancer patient journey. They were also appointed as official members of PAPO who now form part of the movement to proactively fight cancer. They committed to lend their voices and credibility to drive discussions that will lead to concrete actions.

Diego Castro, who also served as moderator for the event; is a longtime lung cancer ambassador and a face of the Hope from Within : Test, Talk, Take Action campaign.

Susan Africa, television personality and wife to the late veteran actor Spanky Manikan; shared the pain and challenges their family went through while her husband was battling with cancer - financial, emotional, psychological and physical. 

Louie Sangalang, a Filipino marathoner and a cancer survivor for 19 years now; was diagnosed with a cancer of the appendix when he was 21. Instead of feeling down, he battled cancer with positivity by living a healthy and active life. He perfectly embodies the Filipino spirit as he continues to overcome life's adversaries.

Mr. Danny Dimabuyu, a melanoma survivor was a previous face of the Hope from Within Campaign. He has shared his experience in battling cancer on various occasions, highlighting in particular how he was able to benefit from immunotherapy through the assistance of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Dr. Gia Sison, Occupational Medicine specialist and breast cancer survivor; is also a blogger. She blogs about her personal views about life, love, and happiness thru Sand and Stone blog. She also left this words of wisdom -  "In every battle you face, realize that there is always hope. I won't forever beat the disease but I will always cherish the lessons."

Dr. Meredith Garcia, a medical oncologist and Kaalaman at Katotohanan tungkol sa Kanser (KKK) Facebook community founder was also introduced as one of the influencers.

Dr. Clarito Cairo, Cancer Program Manager of the DOH and a staunch advocate in the fight against cancer gave his expert overview and analysis on the burden of cancer in the Philippines and how the government has been seeking better alternatives to give better support to patients. He referenced the plans in the DOH cancer road map, which include broader coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation's (PhilHealth) Z Benefit package.

President of PAPO, Fatima "Girlie" Lorenzo, shared and elaborated on the stages of the patient journey in the context of cancer care. Ms. Lorenzo provided a clear grounding of the situation, painstakingly going through each emotion, consideration, and burden that the patient experiences during the whole process - thereby stressing the urgent need for a "cancer game plan" that would address these factors effectively and sustainably.

Dr. Herdee Luna, Multimedia Commitee Associate of PSMO and Ms. Lorenzo reiterated the vital significance of empowering cancer patients -  giving them real options and solutions, through collaborative actions and initiatives.

Lirio Torres, Head of the Accident and Health Group of Sun Life Insurance built on this portion of the discussion by sharing and explaining the benefits of acquiring health insurance packages that may help individuals and families prepare for the unforeseen effects of the disease - making them more secured in their journey.

To cover existing movements and initiatives that aim to improve care and services for cancer patients, Paul Perez of the Cancer Coalition of the Philippines provided updates on the cancer bill, a body of work that proposes an integrated, multi-disciplinary, nationwide cancer control and management program. The program is intended to enhance the response capacity for all types of cancers, to provide high-quality, adequately sourced medicines and services for patients and their families.

As a further testament to the advocacy, Allan Ancheta, Oncology Business Unit Lead of MSD in the Philippines, announced the formal launch of the Cancer Game Plan PH social media platforms to encourage more stakeholders to be involved in the cause. The gathering was capped off with a ceremonial gesture to emphasize the deepened and expanded commitment to fight cancer, in the mission to save more lives.

Ambassadors, influencers, and advocates of Cancer Game Plan PH

For more information visit the following pages:

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