Arenas leads her Bravehearts vs cervical cancer

Leo Lastimosa - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – In 1995, the movie Braveheart, the historical drama war epic film directed by and starring Mel Gibson, became one of the most memorable movies of all time. Beyond the awards and recognition, the movie made such an impact and generated a huge interest in Scotland and in Scottish history.

In the Philippines, its namesake, the Bravehearts Coalition of the Philippines, hopes to achieve the same success when it comes to raising awareness about cervical cancer. 

Led by former beauty queen Abbygale Arenas-De Leon, the non-profit organization has been at the forefront of information campaigns to fight the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipino women.

At the recent launch of GlaxoSmithKline’s You Can and You Will campaign, Arenas shared her reasons for being so passionate about her advocacy.

“I first found out about the disease from a friend at GSK nine years ago who ‘forced’ me to get a vaccine. At first, I was hesitant because who wants to have injections anyway? It’s painful right? But when I realized the value and how one vaccine can change your life, I can’t stop talking about it,” she said.

During the event, the Bravehearts Coalition invited media guests to like their page and share it with their friends in exchange for a shirt that stressed their message. “It starts with a simple click, a like, but when you tell your friends what you learned about the diseases then it becomes an effective movement,” Arenas said.

“All I’m asking is you tell 10 other women who will also tell 10 other women, that is how we multiply and make people believe that we can fight cervical cancer. We should empower ourselves with the right information and the right steps because this cancer is preventable,” she said.

In commemoration of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, research-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) furthers its advocacy to increase cervical cancer awareness efforts with the Power Over Cervical Cancer You Can & You Will campaign.

“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Getting cancer may be a distant concept for women who are well and at their prime, but they should be aware that even the healthiest can be at risk,” said Dr. Leah Manio, GSK Medical Affairs manager.

Joining Arenas, was the mother-and-daughter pair of Rose and Andi Manzano who shared their family’s ordeal after Rose was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Five months before Andi’s wedding in 2013, Rose found out she had cancer. “When my mom told us about it, my world crashed. The thought of losing her was just too hard to bear.”

Andi recalled how she would accompany her mom to her treatments despite being busy with her wedding preparations. “It was a very difficult time for our family, but thankfully my mom was able to beat cancer. That episode taught us a lot of valuable lessons, one of which is to protect yourself and your loved ones from cervical cancer through screening and vaccination.”

In the Philippines, it is estimated that the financial cost of preventing cervical cancer through screening and vaccination could be 20 times more affordable than the cost of treatment,” she adds.

For details, visit the Power Over Cervical Cancer page on Facebook and Pangarap Mo, Protektado on YouTube.

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