In September 2017, Cancer Coalition of the Philippines (CCP) reported that seven adults die every hour while eight children die of cancer daily in the Philippines.
If those numbers already sound alarming, among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in UAE, as many as 1,000 are being diagnosed with varying stages and types of cancer, an oncologist told The Filipino Times.
The high number gives weight to the widely accepted notion among experts that working away from home and loved ones – with the emotional and psychological stress it entails – plays a role in acquiring the dreaded disease.
Felipa Lucido, 42, was one of the Filipino migrant workers who was afflicted with this disease.
Felipa, a single mother, has been working as an employee in Geneva, Switzerland for 10 years when she found a lump in her right breast. She immediately went to a doctor and was diagnosed with malignant breast cancer in 2011.
Her family was the first thing that came into Felipa’s mind knowing that her disease could possibly affect her overseas employment.
“Nang nalaman ko na may sakit ako, natakot ako baka ma-cancel ang work permit ko. Ang plano ko magpapagamot ako para sa anak ko at para sa pamilya ko,” she shared with The Filipino Times.
Being sole provider for her daughter in the Philippines, Felipa knew that she had to engage in a battle with her disease to continue providing her family’s necessities.
“Nag-schedule ako ng operation after a week na na-diagnose ako. After ng surgery, I underwent a 6-session chemotherapy and radiotherapy,” she said.
But despite everything she has been through, Felipa remains strong and determined to keep herself healthy. She said she goes for a check-up every six months and also has medications.
With her health insurance and the help of skilled doctors in Switzerland, Felipa is hopeful that she will stay cancer-free for the rest of her life.
“Malaki ang naitulong ng pamilya ko dahil sa patuloy nilang pagdadasal sa recovery ko. Lalong tumibay ang faith ko dahil sa nangyari sa akin. Sa ngayon, seven years na akong cancer-free. Maraming salamat kay Lord at sa pamilya na patuloy na nagmamahal sa akin,” she said.