|Breast cancer survivor Marieclaire De Sagun Rivera
BARCELONA - Marieclaire De Sagun Rivera, also known as Claire, had been actively involved in business and Filipino community activities in Barcelona. Until one day, she felt a painful lump in her left breast.
“At first naramdaman ko tumigas ang left breast ko. Agad naman pumunta ako ng doktor pero it was a misdiagnosis. I asked for another opinion. Nag-ask ako agad ng mammogram sa kanila. So from then, I was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer stage 2.”
The cancer was aggressive that they had to immediately remove her left breast.
She also had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment for a year.
“Noong malaman ko na may breast cancer ako, unang-una kong tinawag yung nasa itaas. Sinabi ko kay Lord, Ikaw na bahala sa akin. Isang malaking factor na nagpalakas ng loob ko, mayroon akong support group, isang pastoral group, they pray for me. Strong faith sa Diyos ang pinakalamalaking bagay.”
Claire, now a cancer survivor, also sourced her strength from her loving husband, family and friends. She continues to receive antibodies treatment and is grateful that cancer treatment in Spain has not incurred her any cost.
Support groups like Oncolliga, a Catalonia-based foundation, also provides psycho-social help to cancer patients and their families.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in developing and wealthy countries alike, according to Asociación Española Contra El Cancer. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
“Nowadays, we don’t know the main cause of cancer. We know that there are several causes, like contamination, virus, etc. It’s a multi-factorial event,” said Dr. Jesus Soberino, medical oncologist at Hospital Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona.
“A painless cyst in the breast is the most common symptom,” Dr. Soberino added.
“The best way to know if we have a breast cancer, first, is self-examination. Even more for women from 50 years old, that’s the age where the risk is increased. Apart from this, a very good screening program based on mammogram is also very effective. It is the most effective way to detect cancer in earlier stage where we can achieve more effective treatment and where we can cure the patient.”
Aside from early diagnosis, balanced diet, healthy lifestyle and regular exercise are also recommended in cancer prevention.
Claire, a nurse herself, believes in the old adage that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, and has a piece of advice to all hardworking Filipinas.
“Siyempre ang main priority natin dito is magtrabaho pero dapat kailangan meron tayong time for ourselves, na kahit nagta-trabaho tayo meron tayong time para alagaan ang sarili natin. Yung medical necessity naman ay libre sa España, so we can have mammogram or physical check-ups sa mga doctors natin, at least makita kaagad kung anong kind of disease na meron tayo.”