Minutes later, I found myself seated with Flow, Ohmski, Sire, and Bernie. A server approached immediately and politely asked how I prefer my steak served. "Well done," I answered, as my eyes search the room for familiar faces. A white projector screen waited infront. Old music hummed in the background. Pleasantries were exchanged between tables while plates of starters were being served. It was a typical press conference setting. Or so we thought.
I almost spilled soup on my shirt when a bellowing voice came from one of the tables. A man, who was at about his 20s, welcomed us to the birthday party of his wife Jennifer. How he delivered his speech was a dead give away--he is a thespian. I knew then that this won't be an ordinary event so I braised myself (and my bowl of soup) for the impending show.
With the steaks served, the party officially begun. Guests anticipated the celebrant's arrival until a shocking truth was revealed--Jennifer died, everyone is a suspect. In mere seconds, Melo's was turned into a stage. The interesting set-up made the bloggers curious and entertained at the same time. As the night progressed, more characters were revealed: a devious mother-in-law, the envious sister, the sneaky ex-lover, a discreet best friend--all being probed for Jennifer's untimely death. A single question lingered in everyone's mind: "Who Killed Jennifer?"
After dialogues and punchlines were thrown from either corners of the room, the question was finally answered. Jennifer was a victim of a serial killer--the cervical cancer.
The Clock is Ticking
World Health Organization (WHO) says that there are 510,000 new cervical cases annually worldwide, making it the second biggest cause of female mortality, next to breast cancer. Locally, there are 7,277 estimated new cervical cancer cases per year, with 12 women dying daily from the disease. These are just some information shared to us by a GlaxoSmithKlein Philippines' resource speaker during the event.
What Cervical Cancer Looks Like (photo by Earth Rullan)
What Causes Cervical Cancer?
Cervical Cancer is usually caused by a chronic and persistent cancer-causing type of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection. Presently, there are 200 known types of HPVs, 15 of of which are said to be cancer-causing. Prevalent among Filipinas are HPVs 16, 18, and 45.
Pre-malignant lesions in the cervix may be detected and diagnosed before becoming malignant. Visual Inspection of the cervix with Acetic Acid (VIA) and Pap Smear would help identify these lesions. Yearly Pap Smear tests are recommended for women who have already engaged in vaginal intercourse. Non-sexually active individuals, on the other hand, may start Pap Smear tests at the age of 35.
Stop the Killing
As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure. Cervical Cancer Vaccines are now available to prevent women from falling victim to this serial killer. In the Philippines, women ages 10 and above may now avail of a cervical cancer vaccine at around Php8,000. Three shots within a period of six months are all it takes to guard yourself from cervical cancer causing HPVs. Consult with your OB-Gyn for more information about this vaccine or visit http://www.gsk.com.ph/cervarix.html.