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In the year 2000, due to the growing number of breast cancer patients of East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC), the Department of Surgery, then chaired by Dr Florentino C. Doble, established the first breast care centre in the Philippines. The Breast Care Center (BCC) needed staff and resources that the hospital could not provide. Ms Pearl L. Imperial, a nurse and survivor, joined Dr Doble’s team of surgeons to establish a foundation to serve as BCC’s support group.
Philippine Foundation for Breast Care Inc. (PFBCI), a non-profit, volunteer-based organization, was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2001. Dedicated to serving mostly indigent patients by sourcing financial assistance and providing emotional support, PFBCI is the only donee institution accredited by the Philippine Council for NFO Certification for breast cancer.
The partnership with EAMC, a government hospital serving the poorest of the poor, has provided PFBCI not only a home and but also space for growth. In 2004, PFBCI invested in the improvement of the BCC. Through the leadership of Dr Cristina L. Santos, the organization got charted, trustees and officers were elected, and strategies got explored.
Since early detection is the key to surviving cancer, one of the strategies realized was the installation of mammography and stereotactic biopsy system at EAMC. Through partnerships, a mammogram is now accessible and affordable.
General Assembly 2008 brought a new set of trustees and officers that defined its future. Psychiatrist and EAMC Consultant Dr Maria Consuelo S. Aleta conceptualize the 12 Boobie Programs that gave a clear picture of the scope of services PFBCI committed to undertake. Thus, the framework was developed and gained substance through collaborations with the government and private sectors.
Early Detection and Screening Programs found partnerships with Valencia Cortez Foundation, Lyceum of the Philippines University and Tulong sa Pag-unlad Inc. Funding for diagnostics and treatment programs were linked with Zonta Club of Metro Ortigas, Soroptimist International of Ortigas and Pink for Life.
In 2010, PFBCI invested in a software program designed to serve as a database for a breast cancer registry. Dr Roque devoted precious time to craft a comprehensive database that tracked both patient and medicine-accessed records. This capability set the stage for BCC to be the launching pad for DOH’s Free Chemo Access Program as well as a suitable venue for clinical trials. Roche has engaged Drs. Roque and Soliman as lead investigators for clinical studies.
In August 2011, PFBCI chartered the Bicol Chapter led by Dr Vilma A. Hao. Nurses from Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital received oncology training from Dr Roque while PFBCI conducted patient navigational training. In December 2011, PAGCOR donated P1.1M for the renovation of the BCC and the purchase of a laminar flow cabinet equipment for its chemotherapy room.
Advocacy campaigns have been retooled as Breast Care Advocate Training Course to tap barangay health workers and committed individuals in a sustained awareness and early detection campaign. Early 2012, partnership with Philippine College of Surgeons, Northern Luzon Chapter presided by Dr Laennec C. Baquiran created a referral network system that linked public and private hospitals as well as medical practitioners to navigate breast cancer cases to a treatment program.
In June 2012, a new set of trustees was installed and bigger dreams have come forth. In October 2012, the partnership with Ms Delia C. Baquiran, a retired nurse based in New York, USA, launched the Breast Cancer Imperative Inc. at the Philippine Consulate in New York to support the first-ever mobile mammovan in the Philippines. Also, in October 2012, The Peninsula Manila chose PFBCI as the beneficiary of its annual breast cancer awareness campaign which produced a hefty check of P516,075.99. And PFBCI has been assured of a long-term relationship.
In March 2015, Human Nature launched our collaboration through MammoMe, a body wash that promotes breast cancer awareness and early detection in its packaging. Its product continues to be a vehicle to raise funds for PFBCI.
In February 2015, PFBCI relinquished its role in the operation and management of the Breast Care Center (BCC) to Medical Center Chief II Dr Roland L. Cortez of EAMC. PFBCI has been freed to pursue its original and most significant mandate: patient navigation.
In October 2016, a new two-story structure, BCC Annex, built within the Out-Patient Department of EAMC along with twenty chemotherapy chairs were donated by Peninsula Manila to upgrade the standard of care and comfort for patients some of whom come from distant provinces and some whose bodies have been ravaged by the disease.
In August 2016, the South Cotobato Chapter was chartered through the leadership of Ms Bernadette V. De Jesus. In November 2016, a Memorandum of Joint Cooperation and Understanding established a Community-Based Breast Cancer Management and Referral Network Program in the Province of Marinduque through the coordination of the Provincial Health Officer II Dr Gerardo O. Caballes.
The PFBCI Team led by Chairman Maria Lourdes V. Cortez continues to weave a social fabric that attracts individuals and organizations to deliver a sustainable agenda: make a difference, save a life. It is now the leading institution whose effective breast cancer advocacy not only trains the masses to do correct breast self-exam confidently but also to navigate through the complex health care delivery system in the country.