A lot of people were surprised to hear Rhian Ramos make a startling revelation: her mother was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer earlier this year.
"I want to give my support. This year, my mom got a malignant cyst... The whole family is affected. It drove me to give my love and support to other women who are also affected by it," admitted Rhian recently.
Rhian and Lyn Ching-Pascual of Unang Hirit served as the hosts of Avon’s September 6 launch of the Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer (KGBC) campaign held at The Peninsula Manila.
The two event hosts led the discussion, which focused on the personal stories of the guests who have had experience dealing with breast cancer.
Former actress Lara Melissa de Leon said that she led an active lifestyle in the past with her many sports but she regrets not taking enough supplements.
Ces Revilla-Schulze (mother of TV host Lexi Schulze) is now in remission after being diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.
Former APO Hiking Society member Jim Paredes says of his experience, "My wife Lydia did not have cancer; rather, we had cancer."
He had this piece of advice for the men whose wives are diagnosed with the disease: "Be super sensitive to the feelings of your spouse. Just really empathize and be open to her pouring out her fears. Be there 1000 percent."
Single mother Josephine Negranza found out about her Stage 2 breast cancer in 2008.
Meanwhile, Antonio "Mang Tonyo" Nicerio attests to the fact that even men can get breast cancer as well. The former bodyguard is one of the few male breast cancer patients in the Philippines.
Aside from Rhian, other GMA-7 artists who supported the event were Frencheska Farr and Steph Henares.
The celebrities have pledged to join Avon’s Race to 125,000 Kisses to benefit those who suffer from the disease all over the Philippines. They encouraged Filipinos to take part in the October 2 race that will take place at the SM Mall of Asia open grounds.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Philippine General Hospital Breast Care Center and to selected provincial hospitals.
EARLY DETECTION IS KEY. Rhian says she is inspired to give her support to this advocacy because this cause is very close to her heart.
"Hindi ko siya pinag-usapan noon. This year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. We’re in the fight," said the GMA-7 actress.
"Right now, she’s okay. We had the cyst removed.
"My mom’s really healthy and happy and you wouldn’t even think that she got diagnosed with it."
What was her initial reaction when she found out that her mom had breast cancer?
"Na-depress kaming lahat. Sa totoo lang ang initial reaction naming lahat ay umiyak, pero siyempre, hindi sa harapan ni Mommy.
"Nung nalaman ko, hindi namin sinabi sa isa’t isa kasi gusto ng mommy ko na siya ang magsabi.
"We all had to deal with it alone...dun kami nahirapan. But what made it easy is when you all deal with it together.
Rhian says that even though she and her family were scared by the diagnosis, they never saw it as a "curse."
"Hindi namin siya nakita na isang curse. Parang sabi namin, ’labanan natin ito.’
"Year 2011 na at ang dami na nating magagawa with science and all the medical technology.
"Hindi siya isang bagay na dapat mawalan ng hope ang tao."
What procedures did her mom undergo?
"Early detection ang nangyari. Stage 1 pa lang and they advised her to take chemo.
"But yung mommy ko, may iba siyang health issues aside from that. There are certain medicines na hindi nag-a-agree sa body niya so she didn’t continue her chemo.
"She’s doing an alternative kind of medicine but the important thing is that it’s working.
"Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pag-check at ng exams para hindi mag-recur. Ako saka mga ate ko, we have to be more careful. Just be good to our body...."
Rhian then gave advice to other Filipinas, especially since the Philippines is considered to have the highest incidence of breast cancer in the Asian region.
"The key in being able to fight breast cancer ay ma-detect nang maaga, yung Stage 1 pa.
"’Wag nating hayaan na may iba na tayong nararamdaman tapos saka lang makikipagkita sa doctor."
Since her mom has been diagnosed with the big ’C,’ Rhian admits that she has become more conscious about eating healthy, getting enough sleep and reducing her stress levels.
"Naging watchful na rin ako, and yung mom ko laging nagre-remind or pag nakikita niya ang stress sa mukha ko.
"Wala kaming history but you have to be careful when someone in your family gets it. There’s something about your genes that makes you susceptible to it."