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This woman’s month, Bravehearts invited women to The Tour of Hope 2009, “Dare to be Bold”, a cycling event that aims to raise funds and awareness for cervical cancer prevention. Now at its 2nd year, the 5-day charity cycling event will be held from May 24 – 28. This time the 500 kilometer bike tour will be taking the Southern Luzon route from Muntinlupa City all the way to scenic Camarines Sur. Lay forums on cervical cancer will be conducted per stop to help women in these communities learn more about this deadly but little known disease.

The Tour of Hope’s “Dare to be Bold” press launch highlighted three X’s in their cervical cancer advocacy – eXposing the truth about cervical cancer, eXceeding your limit in support of this worthy cause and eXclaiming your right to life, honoring the brave struggles that cervical cancer patients and survivors face. eXposing the truth In eXposing the truth, Dr. Cecilia Ladines-Llave, Chair of the Cancer Institute of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital and Director of the Cervical Cancer Prevention (CECAP) Network Program, exposed some stark facts about the Philippines’ second highest killing cancer among including its high mortality rate. Every two minutes, one woman dies of cervical cancer around the world and in the Philippines, 10 women die everyday of this disease.


 Cervical cancer is caused by a persistent infection with cancer-causing Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). However, a simple infection may take 10 to 30 years to progress to cancer, which gives woman ample time to visit her doctor to learn preventive ways to combat this killer disease. Getting vaccinated is one way to help prevent cervical cancer. A cervical cancer vaccine has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline which helps protect women against two most common cancer causing HPV types, 16 and 18, and has also shown efficacy against persistent infection caused by 12 other cancer-causing HPV types beyond HPV 16 and 18, thus affording broad protection against cervical cancer.

Designed to last for both young and mature women, females from 10 years old onwards can be vaccinated using GSK’s cervical cancer vaccine- especially now that the price has been reduced by as much as 60%, making it more affordable and accessible to more women in the Philippines. A woman who is not screened for cervical cancer is five times at risk for developing this disease. Hence, having a healthy lifestyle and vaccination should go hand in hand with regular screening. CECAP advocates the Single-Visit Approach (SVA), which combines screening and treatment in one visit. Through the SVA, a woman is counseled regarding this disease, screened through Visual Inspection of the Cervix with Acetic Acid and when necessary, treated with cryotherapy in just one visit.

For two years, CECAP has established 8 sites all over the Philippines that provide cervical cancer screening services among women. Nearly 15,000 Filipinas have been screened through the SVA and 179 were discovered to have precancerous lesions, and were treated appropriately. Nine women were suspicious for cancer and were subsequently referred to partner institutions. And with the thrust of instigating awareness regarding this disease and in the fact that this is preventable, CECAP has ventured into 86 lecture awareness campaigns in the country and internationally.

Proceeds for The Tour of Hope will go towards sustaining the CECAP Coordinating Center for the continued building and supervision of cervical cancer screening and vaccination facilities all over the country. eXceeding your limit In eXceeding your limit, participating athletes spoke up on the importance of promoting a healthy lifestyle for women and supporting the cause of cervical cancer prevention. Though she is a beginner to the sport, Jeena Lopez is looking forward to biking for a good cause.

A Champion Wakeboarder and Extreme Sports Enthusiast, she stressed the importance of fitness and awareness as a way for women to protect their health. “I was immediately attracted to the idea of Tour of Hope - no competition, just a bike ride to make people around aware of their health. Being a woman in her 30's and the reality that cancer or any other illness may not be so far away, it is always important that we have an attitude of prudence when it comes to our health. I believe in preparing one's self for any battle, through awareness, information, and vigilance,” she explained. Jeena Lopez will be joined by Team David’s Salon, the Philippine's first all-women multi-sport team, dedicated to promoting sports and sharing a passion for health and wellness to fellow women.

 David Charlton, CEO of David's Salon Institute and the team’s title sponsor would like to encourage more Filipinas to go out for sports and join events like these as “It’s fun and good training and at the same time, it will help save lives of women all over the country.” eXclaiming your right to life Finally, in eXclaiming your right to life, cervical cancer survivors and GlaxoSmithKline, a main sponsor and supporter of The Tour of Hope 2009, enjoins everyone to Dare to be Bold and ride their bikes to help save more women from this disease. “Every kilometer traveled by The Tour of Hope bikers represents a world of difference to every Filipino woman who is at risk of succumbing to the 2nd leading killer cancer among women. GSK is committed to help in the fight against cervical cancer in partnership with Bravehearts, CIF and CECAP,“ said Lo-Ann Villanueva, GSK Group Product Manager.

Last year’s Tour of Hope had more than 50 bikers joining the tour including David Charlton, Tricia Chiongbian, news anchor and triathlete, Hon. Nestor Itchon, the Vice Mayor of Candon City, and Team David’s Salon. Through their support, the Tour of Hope 2008 was able to raise over Php 300,000 for the cause. The lay lectures and forums conducted during the Tour were able to reach over a thousand women and health workers.

The Tour of Hope is a joint project of Bravehearts, a multi-sectoral coalition led by the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network (CECAP) and the Cancer Institute Foundation (CIF) that aims to arm women with the proper information on cervical cancer prevention, the Cancer Institute Foundation, Inc., CECAP, GlaxoSmithKline Philippines, Campaigns PR Inc., Creative Juice and in strategic partnership with Team David’s Salon.

 This year, Maldita, Metro Magazine, Health Today, Personi-fi and SM are also major sponsors, with SM Lipa, SM Lucena and SM Naga being the venue for the lay lectures at those stops. For tour details, contact Joyette Jopson of Team David’s Salon at 0917-882-7385. For sponsorships, donations or bike pledge inquiries, you may contact 780-9898/ 713-8144 or email ttoh_phil@yahoo.com or visit http://thetourofhope2009.multiply.com.
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