Solidarity and hope shine through this World Lymphoma  and Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Borrowing from the original expression of “It takes a village to raise a child,” it can also be said that it takes a village to fight and conquer cancer. It may just be one body enduring the physical battle, but it is the shining hope of many, the support of friends and family, that matters significantly in the emotional and mental front.

Continuing to show solidarity, the community comes together to honor the survivors, warriors and their families for this year’s World Lymphoma and Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

Blood cancer is caused by mutations in the DNA within blood cells, with lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma being the most common types of blood cancers. According to the Global Cancer Observatory of the World Health Organization in the Philippines, there are around 5,000 cases of lymphoma, 6,000 cases of leukemia and 800 cases of myeloma diagnosed every year. That is almost 12,000 Filipinos a year being diagnosed with blood cancer. More than just a statistic, it also means 12,000 families impacted, 12,000 lives disrupted and 12,000 battles for a better tomorrow.

Unknown to many, lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the immune system’s infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. Common symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, chills, weight loss, fatigue — all of which are more likely to be caused by, or confused with other conditions, which is why getting checked by a doctor is important for proper diagnosis and education about blood cancers needs to be reinforced. Lymphoma Philippines aims to make this happen.

Lymphoma Philippines is a non-profit organization for lymphoma patients, survivors and caregivers aiming to spread awareness and education on lymphoma, and connect the community through medically approved lymphoma-related campaigns in the country. The lack of information is what inspired cancer survivor Jheric Delos Angeles, after his recovery from Stage 4 Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, and his wife Anna Tapel-Delos Angeles to create a community of Filipino patients and their family members in order to educate more people and provide much needed support to those in need, including fighting for better healthcare.

As part of these efforts, Jheric and Anna unveil The LymphomaQR Project, an initiative that aims to make information accessible to the general public through an easy-to-use and familiar tool. With the goal of helping Filipinos have access to relevant information all throughout their lymphoma journey, the LymphomaQR chatbot hopes to lessen the burden that they face.

“We looked back at our personal journey in the fight against lymphoma and saw the gaps to be filled — one of which is quick access to reliable information. With LymphomaQR, we’re simply taking queues from technological trends readily accepted by people to be able to make the experience easier for them, lessening the burden in whatever way we can,” says Lymphoma Philippines co-founder Jheric Delos Angeles.

Jheric and Anna also recognize that there is a bigger battle to be fought and more people willing to support the cause, all united by blood. In line with this, Lymphoma Philippines officially launches the Blood Cancer Alliance of the Philippines this World Lymphoma Awareness Month. Joining forces with EPCALM Adult Leukemia Foundation of the Philippines, Kanser sa Adolescents and Young Adults Community/KAYA Community, The Carewell Community Foundation, Touched by Max Inc, Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations, UST Hospital Hematology Department, Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine and Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc., the alliance aims to shed light on the issues faced by Filipino blood cancer patients, increase efficiency to access information and support, and overall improve the experience and outcomes of all those living with blood cancer.

“We can never truly know the gravity of the battle of our survivors, warriors and their families. Nevertheless, let us continue offering our support even by simply clicking the share button. It only takes a second. A nugget of vital information when shared with many can make a difference. Let’s make it happen with the help of Lymphoma Philippines and the Blood Cancer Alliance of the Philippines,” urges Dr. Clarito Cairo, Department of Health, Disease Prevention and Control Management Bureau, Cancer Control Division and Program manager.
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