By Nickie Wang/ Manila Standard Today
Cervical cancer is curable if diagnosed and promptly treated in its early stage. This is the message that model and former actress Tweetie de Leon-Gonzales would like to tell all women, young and old alike.
“It’s really an investment on your health because in the end it is much cheaper to prevent it than to cure it. So I encourage everyone to take advantage of this breakthrough,” De Leon-Gonzales told Standard Today pertaining to a new vaccine that has been introduced to prevent cervical cancer.
In the Philippines alone, cancer of the cervix is the second most common known cancer among women. Statistics shows that every year, an estimated 6,000 Filipino women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than half of them die of this disease.
De Leon-Gonzales has been working on the campaign that aims to spread the word about the new vaccine since she and her daughter took the shots a year ago. The vaccine, according to her, is a three-shot vaccine that can be availed by women ages 9 to 45 years old.
“You can avoid it. It really felt like it’s a sin not to take advantage of it because by your mere decision to take the vaccination, you’re not only saving your own life but you’re also saving your family’s life. I had my vaccination last year, this advocacy also started early last year,” she stated.
De Leon-Gonzales got directly involved with the advocacy when Mu Sigma Phi Sorority of the UP College of Medicine, which is known as the oldest sorority in Asia, approached her to be one of its spokespersons.
“I’m involved in the initiative of promoting the vaccine. What it is now started from nothing, nobody knew anything about it. But of course I’m not the driving force behind the success of this program,” the model exclaimed.
She added that she is just a tool that if all the organization needs is a voice, she is more than willing to lend her hand because this program can help a lot of people.
“Actually by just word of mouth we can help already. We are trying to seek help so we could make this vaccine available to everybody most especially to the ones who can hardly afford it,” she enthused.
Because of the campaign, De Leon-Gonzales get to meet many women who are afflicted by the killer disease. And meeting these survivors gives her the insight of their plight.
“Unfortunately it’s too late for them to take the vaccine but then as victims of this type of cancer, they take an active role to promote the vaccine,” she said.
De Leon-Gonzales shares the same sentiments with television host Grace Lee. The TV personality also works hand in hand with Mu Sigma Phi Sorority of the UP College of Medicine also as one of the spokespersons of the campaign.
“From both sides of my parents, I’ve got relatives who were diagnosed and suffered from cancer. I’ve experienced and seen how tough it is to go under treatments,” TV host Lee narrated and furthered, “Luckily none of them died of cancer but the difficult part is the process and the struggle of undergoing treatments. So that made me aware of cancer and its effect to families and people afflicted of the disease.”
Sashaying for a cause
As the Mu Sigma Phi Sorority of the UP College of Medicine affirms its position as the leading driving force in promoting reproductive health among Filipino women, being an integral part of its overall commitment for women empowerment, it is organizing a gala dinner and fashion presentation dubbed “Brilyante: The Empowered Woman,” slated on Aug. 28 at the NBC Tent in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
This event is both a campaign for awareness on cervical cancer and other diseases caused by the virus called HPV (human papillomavirus), and a fund-raising activity for the benefit of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network Program and the Service Committee of the Sorority. It will gather some of the country’s most prominent and promising fashion designers, namely: Delby Bragais, Parrish Carlos, Tina Daniac, Rhett Eala, Jun Escario, JM Goulbourn, OJ Hofer, Michelle Lim, Richie Ortega-Torres, Randy Ortiz and Philip Rodriguez.
In cooperation with the Professional Models Association of the Philippines, the designs will be donned by professional models and prominent society members, such as ramp veteran Tweetie de Leon-Gonzales, celebrated socialite Tessa Prieto-Valdes, model-actress-TV host Angel Jacob and Trade Ambassador Mela Bengzon. Also sashaying down the runway are sorority members who are prominent doctors in their chosen fields of medicine, and cancer survivors.
Brilyante: The Empowered Woman is an event that aims to promote a positive outlook and a proactive stance for women faced with this disease.
“Cancer patients and survivors need not be limited by their ailment. That’s why through this event, the issues on self-image of cancer patients are emphasized in an artistic and enjoyable manner. We hope to empower them to face life with renewed vigor, hope and confidence,” said Dr. Maria Angela Bandola, co-chair of Brilyante.