Friday, February 7, 2014
By, Carla Paras-Sison

ICanServe Foundation is a Philippines-based, patient-led non-profit that advocates early breast cancer detection. Through high impact information campaigns and community-based screening programs, it provides women with cancer-related information so they can have a voice in their own health care. It offers hope to women with breast cancer, so they will not feel alone in their journey. Volunteers are cancer survivors willing to share their knowledge and experience with the newly diagnosed, so that the latter’s path to recovery is better lit, and the journey, lighter.

ICanServe was founded in 1999 by four breast cancer survivors led by journalist Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala. Co-founding ICanServe were Crisann Celdran, Becky Fuentes and Bet Lazatin. The four friends saw the need to provide a circle of support for women who were newly diagnosed, women on cancer treatments and women in remission navigating through their “new normal” life. They also saw the need to provide women with information.

In 2000 and 2003, ICanServe published the book ICanServe: A Network of People, Places and Services for the Philippine Breast Cancer Community. The book, distributed for free, was the first listing of resources available to the Philippine Breast Cancer survivor. The book helped define the breast cancer community in the country. ICanServe continues to stay connected with the different breast cancer patient groups in the country.

In 2005, ICanServe staged Silver Linings, the first national breast cancer educational forum and homecoming for breast cancer survivors. Held every three years, it attracts at least a thousand women of various backgrounds from different parts of the country. ICanServe accepts invitations to provide speakers for breast cancer forums in workplaces, schools, malls and other establishments, consistent with its mandate to spread evidence-based health information, as well as stories of hope and survivorship.

In 2008, ICanServe refined its mission to promote early breast cancer detection. It started the first comprehensive community-based breast cancer screening program called Ating Dibdibin (Take your breast care to heart). The program entails training of the medical team of a city all the way to providing free or subsidized cancer treatments. As ICanServe’s flagship program, the foundation wishes to introduce Ating Dibdibin to as many cities as possible. Cities which have taken up Ating Dibdibin as a permanent program, in partnership with ICanServe, are Marikina City (2008) east of Metro Manila, Panabo City (2010) in Davao province and Taguig City (2012) south of Metro Manila.

ICanServe is not a support group. Although it conducts seminars to elevate the capabilities of patient support groups all over the Philippines, it does not itself conduct regular support group meetings, nor does it provide services often expected from support groups such as private talks/seminars and medical/dental clinical missions. Volunteering and/or membership in ICanServe does not prevent volunteers/members from volunteering for and/or affiliating with other organizations, associations, networks and support groups whose mandates or goals do not contradict ICanServe mission of spreading information and hope.

In 2014, ICanServe continues conducting breast cancer screening in communities selected by sponsoring organizations. The 4th Silver Linings will be held in 2015 (instead of 2014) to give way to relief efforts directed toward survivors of super typhoon Yolanda, which hit the country in November 2013.

Run almost entirely by volunteers, ICanServe network includes a private e-group of over 300 cancer survivors, their caregivers and kin, and Filipino celebrity supporters or advocates who have adopted early breast cancer detection among their causes.

Click here for more information about ICanServe. Support us by giving gifts that give back for your loved ones.

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