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PIA Press Release
Sunday, January 22, 2012

Feature: Gravity of cancer pain

by Jose Mari M. Garcia

When one searches for equivalent meanings of cancer, results show malignancy, sarcoma, pest, blight and even evil. The disease, once heard, has always been associated with so much of pain—from physical hurting to misery.

Cancer rules the third spot among the most frequent diseases in the Philippines today with 70,000 new cancer cases diagnosed yearly, according to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS). Recent studies estimate that one of every 1,000 Filipinos will get cancer. This is tantamount to 200,000 Filipinos suffering from cancer pain every year and 40,000 of them die.

Breast cancer survivor Cynthia Allanigue recalls the torture she had to endure with the plague that encumbered her for more than two years. Her “face to face with death” is a ghastly phantasm she related as a way of altering one’s life forever. Cynthia wrote, “For the rest of your life, you depend on your doctor to tell you if your time is up.”

Among children, cancer is a very rare disease but a silent backstabber as its cause is unknown that the malady is already in its advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed. The most common symptoms of pediatric cancer are dizziness, vomiting, unexplained fever or recurring fever, unexplained weight loss, frequent headaches, fatigue, paleness, and sudden eye or vision changes among others.

PSC said the task of fighting cancer is really difficult. It imposes stress on the whole family. The pain can come from the disease itself or from the ubiquitous feeling that the glancing milieu persecutes the sufferer with undertones. PSC said there are many causes of cancer pain, but most occurs when a tumor presses on nerves or body organs or when cancer cells invade bones or body organs. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery also may cause pain.

But what is most excruciating? The Filipino community could concur with a nod to Cynthia - the stress and the anguish that go with a life threatening disease.

Knowledge is power. Five to 10 years ago, cancer patients see the inviting light of the tunnel. Now, they have more chances of surviving with the advances in medical technology and support from various groups.

The third week of January has been designated as National Cancer Consciousness Week. The objective of this annual activity is to promote awareness and action against cancer. Parents, patients and the community must learn to be well-equipped in managing cancer, its risks and its treatment.

Information is the best defense. We don’t want the patients and their families to go down without a fight. Miracle in disguise or plague, cancer is a Filipino fight. (WLB/JMG PIA-3)

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