If there’s a single word to describe Kara, it’s survivor. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer two decades ago, Kara beat the odds and has devoted her life to paying it forward
“Once you get cancer, you cannot deny or forget that you had it. I felt I had to pay back and make sure that it would be a less brutal experience for other women.”
That’s exactly what she’s been doing through the ICanServe Foundation. ICanServe promotes early detection and works with local government units to institutionalize the “Ating Dibdibin” program, a community-based early breast cancer detection program.
“In the beginning, ICanServe was just promoting early breast cancer detection through different media platforms. But we took it a step further. We now partner with LGUs and train medical teams on how to do early breast cancer detection. We help set up breast clinics for them and we also put in place a patient navigation program, a tool where barangay health workers help patients every step of the way in their treatment journey and survivorship.”
Many LGUs that they work with have embraced the Ating Dibdibin project and made the program permanent through an ordinance. The program covers training of medical personnel all the way to affordable or free cancer treatments.
But Kara took the advocacy a notch higher. Together with other patient groups, ICanServe organized the Cancer Coalition of the Philippines to push for an Integrated National Cancer Prevention and Control Act in Congress. “We’re very small and our reach is limited. So to scale up, we decided to unite and fight for a Cancer Act in Congress, where every patient gets a fighting chance.”
Besides the passage of the Cancer Act to service all cancer patients, she dreams of a vaccine or a total cure to breast cancer and that one day the ICanServe will be irrelevant.
But for now, Kara and the ICanServe Foundation are doing their best to give hope and help to all afflicted with the disease—the kind of help that’s responsive, nurturing, and made in the Philippines.
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For more information visit: http://www.icanservefoundation.org