Cancer survivor, 65, rises to the challenge
At 65, Filomena Ngo Sy is still tirelessly working to reach out to fellow breast cancer patients.
Filomena, known as Tita Fely by her peers, has been able to maintain her beauty and fashion edge despite her age.
Her positive aura draws everyone’s attention wherever she goes.
It was in 2000 when she was diagnosed to have breast cancer.
“After learning that I had breast cancer, I felt discouraged. I slowed down my busy life. I became more content with what I have and treasured every blessing. God gives us illnesses to remind us that we should take care of ourselves,” she said.
Sy mentioned stress as one of the reasons why she acquired the disease.
After the diagnosis, she became more conscious of her health and lifestyle.
Sy underwent three major operations to remove her breast and chemotherapy treatments.
“Early detection saved my life. Through my support group, I am able to share with others my personal advocacy of breast cancer awareness,” she said. Her belief in her group’s advocacy has strengthened her resolve to survive.
Sy said breast cancer patients have higher chances of surviving if their illness is detected in its early stage.
Sy is currently the vice president of Cebu Cancer Fight Inc. (CCFI), a support group organized by cancer patients and survivors.
“We hold each other’s hands. We journey together. We let everybody understand the essence of having a family to cheer us up when we want to give up. We just laugh at cancer. We have no choice but to be brave,” she said.
Their group, which started in 2003, now has 80 members. It continues to educate the public on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Aside from giving spiritual and moral guidance, CCFI solicits donations of vitamins and medicine which are given to members.
Sy said since we prioritized those who needed the medicines most, there were instances when some members felt overlooked for not being able to get their share of vitamins and medicine.
Sy said the group is like her second family. She said its members are close to each other especially during their bonding sessions where they share their life’s stories.
“As patients, we are aware of our mortality. We also wish to educate people who think that cancer is a punishment or karma. We don’t need others to look at us with pity,” she said.
Sy said being diagnosed with the disease encouraged her to strengthen her advocacy on breast cancer awareness.
She suggested that a law should be enacted for the availability of cheaper medicines for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
She also suggested that barangay health workers visit breast cancer patients in their homes or set up breast clinics for easy access. These are ways to help fight the disease, she said.
Husbands have a big role to play in giving assurance and support to their wives who have cancer.
“I can go anytime. My concern is on how to spend the remaining days of my life to please God,” she said.
Having cancer is like climbing the highest mountain, with many challenges along the way.
Every night before she sleeps, she says “thank you” to God for each day that she is still alive.
“When I lose courage, I seek help from God, family and friends. Cancer did not bring me to death but to a more rewarding life,” she shared.
The support group holds regular meetings, support programs and a wig bank. It also educates the public on healthy lifestyle and gives spiritual and moral guidance to patients, especially those who do not have a family to support them.
“We also visit hospitals to bring cheer to patients. Sometimes, we distribute gifts to them,” Sy said.
Friends and family members of the cancer patients are welcome to attend the group’s sessions.
She also does guidance counseling to newly-diagnosed patients and give lectures to employees about early detection of breast cancer.
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