Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2013 Year in Review

2013 was another exciting year for mAss Kickers Foundation! We got our first office space at the prestigious San Diego Foundation. This was the first step in attaining credibility as a startup nonprofit. In the San Diego Foundation, we would be neighbors with CoTA (Collaborations: Teachers and Artists), Voice of San Diego, Pacific Arts Movement , and other San Diego based nonprofit organizations. We made some great connections and look forward to future collaborations.

2013 was also the year that we created mAss Kickers Sports. This was the first year we had athletes pushing themselves through competition to honor the people who are in an epic “battle” for their lives and well-being. People ran, biked, swam, played soccer, and played basketball to honor the brave people combating these horrible diseases!

mAss Kickers Foundation attained new video equipment and created a bunch of new videos here: 

We were very excited to start 2013! In January, mAss Kickers Foundation was well represented at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Annual Combined Section Meeting in San Diego. We are looking forward to getting more involved with the APTA Oncology Section to address physical rehabilitation for post-treatment impairments in tumor/cancer patients.

mAss Kickers Foundation had our first table at the C4YW(Cancer 4 Young Women) conference in Seattle, Washington in February. It was very interesting gaining insight on the unique issues of survivorship after breast cancer treatment. We met many new friends there and we look forward to returning in 2014!

In March, mAss Kickers Foundation had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii and speak about young adult survivorship at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, School of Social Work. Hannah Hansen, Marc Rodriguez, and Eric Galvez shared their personal stories as young adult survivors with future Social Workers and addressed questions from the students. One of the first high school mAss Kickers, Catherine Blotner, attended Cancer Treatment Center of America Blogger Summit again in Arizona. So many great connections were made there.

Later in March, we were introduced to the concept of “Integrative Medicine.” To learn more about Integrative Medicine to fight cancer, Arilda Surridge, Monika Allen, and Eric Galvez attended the UCSD Integrative Oncology conference. 

In April, we had a table at the Stupid Cancer, OMG Conference for young adult cancer survivors in Las Vegas, NV. It was great reconnecting with old friends and meeting new friends who are just starting their survivorship journey. OMG is the premier gathering for education and networking for young adult survivors.

Collaboration is the KEY to winning the war on tumors/cancer. Realistically, no single person or organization will defeat these diseases. In May, we brought together scientists, patients, healthcare professionals, and advocates together to talk about how, TOGETHER, WE CAN FIGHT THESE DISEASES

In July we continued our international travel.  We visited Tokyo, Japan and met up with a few survivors in Tokyo.  We then went to Manila, Philippines and gave a talk at Ateneo De Manila to future healthcare professionals and met some cancer survivors.  We made many new international friends and look forward to returning some day.
Japan Day 1 Japan Day 2 Japan Day 3
Japan Day 4 Japan Day 5 Japan Day 6
Philippines Day 1 Philippines Day 2 Philippines Day 3
Philippines Day 4 Philippines Day 5 Philippines Day 6 Philippines Day 7, 8

We returned to the USA in August and spent a few days in Michigan for one of our signature events. Angel Bureau and Andrew Wlodyga organized the 4th Annual TUMORS SUCK PAINTBALL BENEFIT at Hell’s Survivors Paintball field in Pinckney, MI USA . The event has gotten more popular every year! We are always honored to meet new survivors at this event! It is also great seeing the die-hard paint ballers every year because their enthusiasm in the event embodies the assistance from friends and family that a “post-treatment survivor” needs to become a “post-treatment thriver.”

In October, we did a minority bone marrow registry drive for A3M at the FilAmFest cultural festival in San Diego, CA USA. We believe that it is imperative for ethnic minorities to be on the registry because life saving bone marrow matches are based on the similarities in the genetic codes of people of similar ethnic backgrounds. Later in the month we held our annual International Tumors Suck Day: Celebration of Life in San Diego California. At this event we honored the people that stuck by us through the difficult times with toasts for family, friends, and fellow survivors. Check out the video

In November, we teamed up with A3M again to host a minority bone marrow registry drive at the Pacific Art Movement’s 2013 San Diego Asian Film Festival. Many new connections were made there, opening the door for future collaborations.  Of course we had to participate in Movember/"No-shave November"... always funny seeing the pictures and the nicknames for the facial hair!

In December, we are moving offices again because we do too much travel to necessitate a formal office. We decided to look into renting desk space at 3rd Space in San Diego. There are many start-ups and creative organizations there. We are looking forward to the new collaborations we create there!

We have big plans in 2014. We want to do more international travel next year to educate people about post-treatment “thrivership”… We potentially have the University of Singapore and hospitals in Vancouver Canada on the agenda. We also may return to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Please consider a tax-deductible donation so that we can fund our ambitious 2014 plans! THE WORLD NEEDS TO LEARN THAT A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE. THEY MUST LEARN HOW TO KICK MASS!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Research: What it is and Three Fun Facts about It by Kayla Hutchinson, Rudy Mercado, Angelica Gutierrez, and Elizabeth Diane Cordero, Ph.D.

           Research plays a vital role in our world, but some of us don’t know what it is exactly or maybe have some bad impressions of it. Research—proper, scientific research, that is—is the careful, systematic collection and analysis of information. Admittedly, this is a pretty broad definition of what research is, but there are a lot of different ways that research is conducted and applied. It’s a good idea to be knowledgeable about what scientific research is comprised of, especially because we can help improve the lives of other people and the world around us if we make ourselves available to participate in it.
We’re not always aware of it, but we’re presented with statements about research findings fairly often. For instance, television, radio, the internet, and billboards all advertise products that claim to be effective, and the “evidence” for how products work is usually reports made by consumers who have tried the products and have benefited from them (for example,  9 out of 10 people who tried Miracle Product X lost an average of 15 lbs.!!).  These can technically be considered research findings in that the advertising agencies, or the companies they represent, set out to collect information about how/if their products work for people and to make sense of that information in some way (such as counting the number of people for whom the product worked). However, the findings described by advertisements are often based on information that was collected using less-than-careful methods, or those who are making the statements are not held very accountable for the truth behind them.   
Scientific research is quite different than the research that we hear about in advertisements. It is based on empirical (observed) findings from data (information) collected using the scientific method. This means that researchers learn from past studies of the phenomena they are interested in (the phenomena of interest are called “variables” because these are things that vary or change according to different circumstances), create hypotheses (educated guesses) based on past research about what circumstances will affect or be affected by their variables, and systematically measure their variables (for a more in-depth discussion of the scientific method, visit: The scientific method makes sure that research is done in a controlled fashion so that the results are as unbiased as possible and so other researchers can evaluate the process the researchers used and whether or not something can be learned from the results of the study.  This last part is one of the most important points of research—to be able to learn something that can be used to help people or the world in some way.
            There’s a lot that can be said about research. Here are some of our favorite things about it:

1) Research is safe.
Research is sometimes viewed as negative. You might have seen something in a movie in which an evil scientist creates a sinister concoction that will turn human beings into monsters. Or maybe you’ve heard in the media about some kind of research that was done and that it harmed people or animals. Or maybe you have a funny feeling that researchers are cold and consider the people who participate in their studies their “guinea pigs.” In any event, people are sometimes apprehensive about participation in research because of all of the misconceptions they have been exposed to. And to be honest, there have been some immoral and unethical things done under the guise of research in the past.  When participation in research is discussed, people sometimes focus on extreme cases or exaggerated, often inaccurate, horror stories. However, government agencies and researchers over the years have developed safety measures to protect participants from harm. We have institutions that review, approve/disapprove of, and monitor what researchers are doing. Additionally, research participants have rights and these rights are protected throughout the research process. Most researchers are required to provide you with a document that explains the purpose of the research and describes what you will be asked to do so that you can provide informed consent to participate. As a participant, you have a right to know about any consequences or side effects that might be reasonably anticipated, how much time it will take to participate, and most importantly that you can end your participation at any time without experiencing penalties. Many people do not know that when participants want to stop their participation, they can. Participants should never feel forced to continue something if they do not want to. Also, information that you provide that has your name on it or any other type of information that would identify you is required to be kept private and guarded—this usually means locked up somehow, maybe in a filing cabinet or in a password-protected database.
            You might be thinking at this point, “Well, what if I’m asked to take a new drug or try out a new treatment? If it’s new, how can the researcher know it won’t hurt me?”  Sometimes researchers are testing out novel medications or medical procedures. That’s a good thing because there’s potential for interventions that are even better than the ones we have now, but it means that there are some unknown risks involved. This can be scary, but please know that there is some sort of history of reasoning or evidence behind the safety of a medication or procedure by the time researchers are allowed to administer it to human beings, such as data from animal subjects (who researchers are legally and ethically obligated to treat well) or from closely-related substances or techniques that have been used in human beings before. Correspondingly, researchers involved in these kinds of studies will monitor the health of their participants, and participants are given the opportunity to provide feedback about how and what they’re feeling. Bottom line: Participants’ safety is of utmost importance to researchers.

2) Research is essential.
Research is necessary and we need it for advancements in any type of field. How do we know how best to support cancer patients and survivors so that they are living their best lives? We need to conduct research, possibly ask cancer patients and survivors to talk with us about what they need. How do we know which medications will help us to feel better when we’re sick? We need to conduct research, maybe ask people to participate in clinical trials for new medications. Many of the medications that we take when we are feeling ill were part of an investigational drug program in the past and now we take them because researchers found that they are effective and help us feel better. These are the advances that researchers make for our benefit.

3) You can help change the world by participating in research.

Scientific research has improved the lives of people worldwide. The discovery of a particular phenomenon can help efforts to provide resources that can aid in alleviating world dilemmas or concerns. In addition, understanding what affects us can spark the curiosity of another researcher to apply that knowledge to future studies. What many people do not realize is that none of this would be possible without participants. Participants truly are researchers’ partners in the scientific process; without people providing researchers with information about whatever it is the researchers are studying, then researchers couldn’t make discoveries or advancements in any field of research.
Cancer-based research is a field that’s always in need of participants. Cancer is a life-changing illness that unfortunately affects many people, both directly and indirectly. Participation in research is one more way to fight and beat cancer, whether it’s research about medications, treatments, surgeries, or quality-of-life issues. The information that you give to researchers can be used to help others, and when—not if, but when—a cure is  found, you can look back and say that you were a part of saving the lives of the many people who might be diagnosed with cancer in the future. Participate in research and change the world! 

Have we convinced you? Here are some helpful links with more information about research, including how to participate:

Cancer Prevention Research Studies

Pictured:  Rudy Mercado and Kayla Hutchinson

Kayla Hutchinson, Rudy Mercado, Angelica Gutierrez, and Dr. Elizabeth Cordero are proudly affiliated with the psychology program at the Imperial Valley campus of San Diego State University (SDSU-IV). Kayla and Rudy are undergraduate students, Angelica is a recent graduate, and Dr. Cordero is an associate professor.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Saying thanks to our "unsung heroes"

10/17/13 San Diego, CA USA.  The people who support a person undergoing treatment for a tumor/cancer deserve recognition. They helplessly stand by and watch their loved ones get weaker in front of their eyes. What many people don't realize is that when someone gets diagnosed with a tumor/cancer, A LOT of people are affected!  Of course the patient is affected the most, but the people who are on "stand-by" as a loved one get weaker need to be recognized.  It is frustrating to watch a loved one's struggle against these diseases.  There are no words to express the gratitude for people who were at our side through the rough times.  The support received from these special people, can easily be taken for granted.   They deserve recognition.  We decided that there needs to be an event organized by survivors to honor the people that were there for us.  We wanted to honor our friends, family, and fellow survivors with unique toasts!  The focus of the event is not on the survivors, but on the people that helped us through a very difficult time!  Check out the videos from the 2013 event:

The 2013 Tumors Suck Part 5:  Celebration of Life video

Tumors Suck NewsFlash videos @ 2013 Celebration of Life for International Tumors Suck Day

These diseases transform everyone.  We can decide how we are transformed.  There are 3 options:
  1. dive – psychologically succumb to the disease
  2. survive – weather the storm of an intimidating diagnosis
  3. thrive – become proactive in the fight against these diseases 
Patients cannot learn to "thrive" alone.  Support is needed from family, friends, and fellow survivors.  On 10/17/13, we wanted to recognize these people for helping us through a very difficult time!

Please help us continue to grow!  We are now planning more international speaking engagements!  We could really use your support.  You can be a part of a new strategy to fight ALL tumors/cancer... ATTITUDE... this ain't no pity party.

We'll send you some TUMORS SUCK stickers and put you in the next video with your online donation!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday, Manila Day 7 & 8, 7/27-28/13: Last day and the journey home

After our busy day on Saturday, we used Sunday to catch up on all our blogging. My cousin invited us over for lunch for an authentic Filipino meal!  We had fish: something local and tilapia, corn soupadobo, lumpia, dinuguan (I don't touch that stuff), pancit canton, some vegetable dish, fresh mangos, and of course rice.  My aunt is a breast cancer survivor, so we interviewed her for our project. I remembered going to their house in Makati as a kid.  It was one of the few places that had air conditioning! HAHAHA!

After a big meal, it was easy to take a siesta!  We got up in time to eat a late dinner again.  We stayed around the hotel this time, but the rain cooled things down considerably!  We actually attempted our exploration outside.  We went around the perimeter of Glorietta 5, but the restaurant we were looking for was packed with a 2 hour wait!  Damian was getting pretty familiar with the area.  We were hungry so we decided to feast at a random Chinese restaurant.  We were expecting something fancy, but we should have realized it was Chinese Fast food.  Kind of a disappointing last meal in the Philippines.   We turned in early because our flight to Tokyo was at 7:30AM.  My nephew was going to swing by around 4:30AM to take us to the airport.

It is such an ordeal flying out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.  There were 3 security checkpoints, and we had to pay a 500 peso exit fee... not to mention it is a pretty big airport! So glad I had the mAss Kicker Mobile!  There is NO WAY that I could have tolerated all that walking! Regardless, flying international definitely requires extra travel time.  The fact that I need to travel with the mAss Kicker Mobile complicates things.  International airlines don't see these things too often.  I always have to take that into account when I travel.  Next time I will bring the owners manual to expedite checking in. Anyways, when we finally got to the gate, I was exhausted!  Damian wanted to grab some coffee and explore a little.  I found a comfy spot at the gate and took a nice nap in front of a replay off the 2013 NBA FINALS Heat-Spurs:  Miami Coach Erik Sporstra's mom is from San Pablo (where my parents are from)!  Filipinos love basketball!  There was a large crowd watching the game with me!

Anyways, we caught our flight to Narita Airport in Japan with no major problems.  The gate assistants took us to the proper area to pick up the mAss Kicker Mobile.  We had to catch a bus to the Japan Airlines terminal  But when we got to to the terminal, we had a little trouble checking the mAss Kicker Mobile into our Japan Airlines flight back to San Diego.  We had a four hour layover in Japan, but we spent 1 1/2 hours trying to gate check the mAss Kicker Mobile onto the flight to San Diego!  The people at the airport didn't know how to check the mobility scooter.  They were extremely confused!  I waited patiently while Damian searched for a place to grab lunch.  When we final got through security, we decided to grab a bite to eat then stop by the duty-free store.  I'm a candy-holic.  I wanted to pick up some gifts for for a wedding I'd be attending in Canada in 2 weeks!  Anyways, we we were both pretty hungry and decided on this Japanese cafeteria place in the terminal.  We both settled on a meat dish with a raw egg.  It was awesome, but we both had GI issues the next day.  We don't know if it was the home cooked meal the day before or the raw egg at lunch, but something was up!  The last two times I've been to the Philippines I've had GI issues.  I was prepared this time, with TUMS and Pepto.  Anyways, we were both exhausted and pretty much slept the whole flight back!  That was an 11 hour flight!  When we got back to San Diego, we went out for good old pizza and wings, but we were both too exhausted to eat!  For me, I'd be traveling back to the midwest for our annual TUMORS SUCK! Paintball Benefit and my cousin's wedding in Toronto.  The big trip was halfway over!

Check out the Pictures from Day 7 in Manila! 

We def made some great contacts in Japan and the Philippines and look forward to returning someday!  Next on the agenda is to speak in Australia, England, and possibly Singapore.  Stay tuned.  We are just getting started.. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday, Manila Day 6, 7/26/13: Tagaytay

Damian was exhausted, so he decided to lay low today.  I wanted to check out Tagaytay.  Tagaytay is in the province of Batangas. The temperature is much cooler up there so we brought sweatshirts.  It is characterized by the Taal Volcano Island at the center of the Taal Lake. It is an active volcano!  It blows my mind that there are so many restaurants and tourist activities around an active volcano! My nephew came by the hotel and the driver drove my mom, my nephew, and myself to Tagaytay.  It is about an hour and a half car ride to get there from Makati.  This gave us the opportunity to see more of the provinces.  Personally, I like going outside of large cities and seeing the "simpler" life.  Anyways, we went to this great restaurant with a great view of Tagaytay.  More authentic Filipino food!  The place was packed, but the balcony had a great view of the bay!  My nephew suggested we go to a hotel to get another awesome view of Lake Taal.  Tagaytay reminds me of "The Island" on LOST.  So much green here surrounded by clear water.

After lunch we went to a hotel to get another great view of the lake again, the mAss Kicker Mobile got a lot of stares as usual.  We met an elderly gentleman and his family who were curious about the mAss Kicker Mobile.  We had a lengthy discussion about how convenient it is and where to get one.  We wanted to stay there longer because it was so peaceful. We ended up getting halo-halo at the hotel restaurant and listening to a "Filipino Mariachi-like band" sing songs in Tagalog and English.  I have forgotten how much I enjoyed live music.  I will have to start going again in San Diego!  I used to go to Seau's The Restaurant for Island Reggae night. Ever since it closed, I haven't experienced live music.  It has been a while since I've enjoyed it.

Just being able to witness the breath-taking scenery in Tagaytay reminded me that life is precious.  We can't control what happens to us, but we can control how we react.  There are three options when facing adversity.  You can:
  1. dive – succumb to the disease/adversity
  2. survive – weather the storm of an intimidating diagnosis/news
  3. thrive – become proactive in the fight against this disease/step up to the challenge 
To "THRIVE" you have to "SURVIVE" first.  Surviving is logically the top priority, but what happens next after you survive?  Some choose to return to their normal lives.  Other choose to continue the battle against these diseases.  They are no longer fighting for their own well-being.  They are fighting for others similar to them!  One of the biggest reasons we are taking survivors on trips to different areas around the world is to show the world that life after after a tumor/cancer diagnosis DOES EXIST!  WE ARE LIVING LIFE AND THRIVING!

Before heading back, we stopped by a church/chapel in Tagaytay.  They requested silence outside because there were no doors.  Seeing familiar Catholic structures surrounded by tropical foliage was strange to see at first, but eventually it started to grow on me.  Seeing cathedrals in Europe, Catholic Basilicas in San Diego, and modern churches/temples/synagogs throughout North America gives me a sense that we can all be connected by a common belief.  Sure religions differ, but most agree that there is a "standard" that people need to live up to.  The fact that these beliefs have been around for thousands of years gives me hope for humanity.  Every society has to have some semblance of moral rules/laws.  This gets tricky when governments intervene.  I will cut myself off here because I don't want to get into a philosophical debate.

Anyways, we got some great photos from Tagaytay.  Check them out here:
Pictures from Tagaytay

When we got back from Tagaytay, I took my daily siesta and met up with my cousin and nephew for dinner at a modern Filipino restaurant on Bonifacio High Street.  It was old school Filipino cuisine with a modern flare.  The place was packed!  Damian went off on his own adventure that evening in Makati so I didn't get to meet up with him until I got to the hotel later in the evening after dinner.  Finally met up with Damian, but we were both too exhausted to go out and do anything...

The following day was our last full day in Manila.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Friday, Manila Day 5, 7/26/13: San Pablo

My mom got in around 11PM Thursday night and my uncle picked her up at the airport in the van.  On Friday we finally ventured outside of Makati and went to San Pablo, Laguna!  Both my parents are from there.  They grew up close to each other, but didn't really connect till they we both in Canada.  Going to San Pablo is like a return to my roots and I always look forward to it!  I have so many fond memories of that city.  When I was a kid, we spent one epic month of our summer vacation in San Pablo.  This was a very big deal because at the time in San Pablo, there was: no shower, no electricity 3-5PM, limited air conditioning, and we had pet ducklings.  (Some guy was selling ducklings door to door.  I never questioned why.  I now realize that they were probably meant to eat!  hee hee)  It was like "urban camping".  It was cool learning about where we came from and meeting relatives we never even knew existed!  Anyways on our way to San Pablo, Damian was saying how much it reminded him of Mexico.  That statement made a lot of sense.  There are many Tagalog words that are similar to Spanish due to 400 years of Spanish occupation/influence.   Going outside of Manila, the Philippines has a VERY DIFFERENT feel to it.  The difference in socio-economic classes are more apparent outside of Manila.  As I mentioned in a previous post... in the Philippines, you either have money or you don't.  The divide between the lower class and upper class is huge!  My theory is that if you can be classified as middle class, you move out of the Philippines to "greener pastures".

Anyways, we stopped by my uncle's house to drop off my mom's stuff where she would be staying.  The Philippines to me as a child was full of Folk tales and Urban Legends that kind of freaked me out.  The stories of the White Lady, the Duende, and Filipino Vampires: Mandurugo and the Aswang were always fascinating to me.  What I remember most from my first trip to San Pablo were: sleeping in mosquito nets every night and watching live NBA finals games during the day.  Totally random memories.  Anyways, we then went to Max's Restaurant,"The House That Fried Chicken Built" for lunch.  So good!  It was a 5 entree lunch!  After lunch we went to the house that my mom grew up in and hung out a little with family.  It was great going back to a place I hadn't seen in years!  So many fond memories!  We wanted to see more of San Pablo, so the driver took us around Sampaloc Lake.  We got some great video of the area around the lake.  The poverty was really apparent there!  After our short little tour we headed back to the hotel in Makati to rest up.

On Damian's adventure the night before, he discovered a cool bar with great happy hour specials and a food truck festival not far from the hotel.  After resting up, we headed out to grab some eats.  We made some great contacts at the bar and will hopefully collaborate the next time we are in Manila!  At the food truck festival, there were some awesome dishes available at really cheap prices!  There is something special about Filipino barbecue that makes it unique.  Maybe it is the marinade... I don't know what it is, but it is delicious! Anyways after our awesome late dinner, we went back to the hotel room and crashed after a busy day!

Pictures from Day 5 in San Pablo

The following day we would be going to Tagaytay to see the beautiful volcano city.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thursday Manila Day 4, 7/25/13: Meeting the locals at the mall

Damian and I were pretty tired by Day 4 in Manila.  We got up late and tried to find a place to eat lunch in the mall!  We were looking for some restaurant that Damian wanted to check out.  As I mentioned earlier, the mall system in Makati is essentially a city within a city.  I didn’t have the energy to go out and explore the full mall system.  This is a shoppers paradise.  Typically, when I buy something, I know exactly what I want and where to get it.  I never go window shopping.  I guess I don't have the patience to "shop around."  Couple that with the fact that I’ve never enjoyed going to crowded places without a mission or purpose. I discovered at a young age that shopping is not for me. Before websites and amazon. We used to get huge Showroom catalogues in the mail.  Me and my brother use to browse the toy sections in the Service Merchandise and Best Catalogues to pick out the toys we wanted.  Before the internet and before warehouses like Costco or Sam's club people bought household products, personal products, toys, and jewelry.

Anyways, there were 4 major malls walking distance from the hotel: Glorietta, SM, Landmark, Greenbelt.  If either of us were shoppers, we would have truly taken advantage of the location of our hotel, but I was more interested in seeing the sites and Damian was more interested in meeting the locals. We tried to find a restaurant that we wanted to check out the day before, but we couldn't find it and ended up at some random Japanese ramen place because we were hungry.  We were laughing at how easy it was to get lost in the huge mall system and how much we stuck out!  The mAss Kicker Mobile was still getting A LOT of curious stares from people! Eh, not as annoying... Damian wanted to meet more locals so he struck up a conversation with the girl sitting next to us.  She was having lunch with her aunt who just happened to be a 30-year stomach cancer survivor, Conchita Lee!  This little lady reminded me of my grandmother!  She let us record an interview with her.  Just like my Lola/grandmother, she chastised me for not going to church everyday!  This made her more endearing to me.  During our conversation she told me that she was SHOWING us the church in the mall!   Roman Catholicism is serious business in the Philippines, but I was still surprised that a church existed in the mall! I took a peak at Damian, and he shrugged his shoulders. HOW COULD WE SAY NO, TO THIS CUTE LITTLE "LOLA"?  She took us to Landmark and led us to the church!  I’m not sure we would have found it on our own.  It was pretty crazy seeing the fusion of religion and pop culture. A church in a mall...  It makes sense though.  Put a church in an easily accessible place where there is a lot of traffic.  Almost everything was accessible in the mall.  These malls are essentially a modern "street market" but with security (guards and metal detectors) and air conditioning.  Walking around in an air conditioned mall sure beats walking around outside in the heat and pollution.  

Anyways, after visiting the church and feeling guilty for not going, we made our way down to the cafeteria in Landmark and hung out with a group of retired Filipinos who go there daily and have coffee.  They have their own schedule and it was so interesting talking with them about cancer and life in the Philippines. We have some great video footage of our conversations.  When we got back to the room, we were both exhausted!  Later that evening, my mom would need the to get picked up from the airport.  The van was reserved to come by at 10 PM.  I met up with my Uncle so that he could meet up with her and pick her up at the airport in the van.  Damian went out and grabbed dinner on his own and explored the area around the hotel while I waited for my uncle.  He found some pretty cool spots and tried to drag me out later that evening to have some fun, but I was just exhausted!  I decided to rest up and catch up on some blogging.  With so much going on, we were falling short on our plan of blogging every day.  This was my night to catch up!

I didn't catch up as much as I wanted, but I did manage to get a little done.  Friday was going to be a busy day.  We were going to San Pablo, the city where my parents grew up!  I think we were both getting tired of staying by the mall.  Stay tuned for more updates.  

Wednesday, Manila Day 3, 7/24/13 Ateneo De Manila Lecture

We had the opportunity to speak to future physicians and future healthcare providers at Ateneo De Manila University.  We jumped at the prospect of meeting a few survivors and future healthcare providers in another part of the world!  This would be the first time we would be speaking to International Students about post-treatment thrivership.  We were graced by the presence of:  Norman Marquez, Jason Haw, Noel Cruz, Mia Chico, Patricia Nitura, Kyla Cabatit, Chin-Chin Santiago, and Alberto Antonio.  We were honored that Ma. Gia Sison MD joined us for the presentation at Ateneo.  Dr. Sison had recently completed chemotherapy for breast cancer literally days before the presentation.  We were truly honored by her presence and input to the lecture.  We had only talked once before the presentation, but we immediately bonded by a common disdain for all forms of tumors/cancer.  Although healthcare is different in different countries, we face similar battles fighting diseases, tumors, or cancer.

Health Insurance is private pay in the Philippines.  We learned that in the Philippines either you have money or you don’t.  This means that if you get diagnosed with cancer and you can’t afford the treatments or medications you are left to fend for yourself.   The priorities in terms of tumor/cancer survivorship are very different there!  The stigma of tumors/cancer as a “death sentence” is much more prevalent than that of “survivorship”.  Our strategy is to educate all future healthcare professionals so that they can provide appropriate resources for their future patients.  Educating the layman starts with the healthcare professional planting “seeds of treatment resources,” but ultimately the responsibility lies with the patient and their loved ones to seek and then apply the information they discover.  Culturally, this is a huge barrier because patient access to information varies in different regions of the world.  Essentially, ALL patients need to know that they do have options.  We think mAss Kickers Foundation can assist in providing resources. Healthcare professionals specifically physicians and nurses need to be aware of patient resources and disseminate that information to their patients. Education is the first step.

At Ateneo, we brought up a very controversial subject in the war on tumors/cancer: using clinical trials for patients who don’t have access to traditional life-saving tumor/cancer treatments!  I’m not sure if many people would be eligible subjects for clinical trials in third world countries, but the alternative for these patients is NO TREATMENT and ultimately a worse quality of life or even DEATH! People need treatment, and research studies need subjects... Of course clinical trials would need to be closely monitored by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or some sort of ethics committee, but the potential for life saving treatments from this research could benefit A LOT of people and provide HOPE for the less fortunate patients that can’t afford traditional treatment!  Every patient deserves options!  This opens the door for an ethical debate, but clinical trials should at least be considered in this population.  This would require CLOSE MONITORING, but could significantly advance our knowledge and treatment of these diseases!  I'd really like to hear your thoughts on the ethics of this...
Anyways, the presentation went well based on the feedback we received from the attendees.   In the following days, we got to explore Makati a little more, visit San Pablo where my parents grew up, and visit the beautiful town of Tagaytay! Stay tuned for the next installments of the blog.  We have more plans to do international travel next year!  We would appreciate your feedback and ideas for future activities.

Are you Ready to be a mAss Kicker?

We think ALL Tumors Suck! We believe a stronger community needs to be formed to more efficiently fight these diseases. JOIN THE MASS KICKERS ARMY! Content here will be provided by real people who have been affected by tumors/cancer. Any one can be a "mAss Kicker". When facing a new intimidating diagnosis it is easy to loose confidence. We've found that the "Right ATTITUDE" will help get you through a difficult time! Are you ready to be a "mAss Kicker?"