By CHESHIRE QUE
“Every second, a patient is diagnosed with lymphoma worldwide. What people don’t know is that lymphoma is curable and I am a living testament to this, having been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma four years ago and currently enjoying my second lease in life,” shared Jheric Delos Angeles, president of Lymphoma Philippines Foundation, a patient support group for lymphoma patients. Lymphoma is one of three types of blood cancers, the other two being leukemia and myeloma. It begins in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that is essential to the body’s immune system and its ability to fight infection. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) is the most common type of lymphoma. It is found in four out of five patients. NHL can occur at any age and in both men and women. It has, however, a higher incidence among the male population.
The most common symptoms of NHL include swelling in the neck, armpits, or groin, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, fever, and night sweats. Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Hodgkin disease, on the other hand, behaves and spreads differently from NHL, even though both types of lymphoma affect the lymphocytes. It often develops in the upper body (neck, chest, or armpits) versus NHL, which can originate from any part of the body’s lymph nodes.
When diagnosed with lymphoma, the lymphatic system is rendered unable to efficiently carry out its functions in the body. This whole network of vessels and organs is responsible for getting rid of toxins, wastes, and “invaders” in the body, as well as regulating the flow of fluids carrying infection-fighting white blood cells or lymphocytes in the body.
“In the Philippines, lymphoma is among the top 15 cancers. Signs and symptoms of lymphoma are easily missed due to similarities with other common diseases like the flu and tuberculosis, so early detection is critical for patients to receive the right treatment and achieve a high chance of cure,” according to Dr. Priscilla Caguioa, hematologist-oncologist and past president of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology and Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion.
In observance of World Lymphoma Awareness Day, Roche (Philippines) Inc. partnered with the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine (PCHTM) and Lymphoma Philippines Foundation to launch the “Lympho Matters Advocacy Campaign” and the first Philippine Lymphoma Awareness Day (PLAD), to be celebrated on Sept. 18 every year. “There is hope for patients who are diagnosed with lymphoma,” said Dr. Ellen Gatchalian, a hematologist and lymphoma survivor herself. “I have been cancer-free for almost 23 years since my diagnosis. While it was initially difficult to accept the diagnosis of lymphoma, the support of my family and health care providers helped me overcome it. I’m happy that with this advocacy campaign, we will be able to provide more support for lymphoma patients.”
Dr. Diana M. Edralin, country medical director of Roche (Philippines) Inc., believes that multi-stakeholder partnerships is critical not just in raising awareness on lymphoma but also in helping patients receive optimal care throughout their treatment journey. “We are honored to partner with PCHTM and Lymphoma Philippines Foundation in this advocacy campaign and to mark this day (Sept. 18, 2019) as the First Philippine Lymphoma Awareness Day,” Dr. Edralin said. “Given the multitude of subtypes within lymphoma, Roche is committed to continuing research on lymphoma in order to increase understanding of this complex disease and ensure patients receive the best possible treatment.” If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is best to seek professional help for proper assessment and management.