Yet hardly does anyone know that September is observed globally as the World Leukemia Awareness Month (WLAM).
Leukemia, for many is a dreaded disease.
But not much is really known about Leukemia.
Here in the Philippines, there is a non profit and Christ-centered organization advocating and devoted to helping patients stricken with leukemia.
This organization is called EPCALMÂ Adult Leukemia Foundation of the Philippines Inc.
This year marksÂ the first time that World Leukemia Awareness Month is celebrated locally.
EPCALM is a God-centered, non-stock, non-profit organization called to reach out and help victims of leukemia and their families.
EPCALM is the acronym for Erwin Piedad Cabanag Adult Leukemia Memorial.
The late Atty. Erwin P. Cabanag was City Fiscal of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines when he succumbed to leukemia on May 12, 2005 at the age of 45.
At this time, the vision to build the first adult leukemia foundation in the Philippines was born, now known as the EPCALM Adult Leukemia Foundation of the Philippines, Inc.
EPCALM was formed from the deep grief that struck Erwinâ€™s sister, Dr. Erlyn Cabanag-Demerre, a top cardiologist at St. Lukeâ€™s Medical Center in Taguig and Quezon City, and her husband Engr. Justice Demerre, who is the President.
The story of Prosecutor Erwin is heartbreaking.
Initially denied a US visa for emergency treatment for leukemia, Erwin was finally granted the go signal to fly to the United States.
But it was already too late. Erwin had succumb to the disease.
From this heartbreaking experience, Erwinâ€™s sister vowed to do something forÂ leukemia patients in the Philippines in honor of Erwin.
Thus, EPCALM came to be.
Ten years after Erwinâ€™s death, EPCALM has now been recognized asÂ the leading organization that caters to the needs of leukemia patients, many of whom are surrounded with dampening stories of how hopeless this medical situation is.
According to the Department of Health (DoH), leukemia is the fourth cancer-killer in the Philippines.Â Further, the Philippine Health Advisories Report of DoH ranks leukemia as the fifth in overall mortality.Â It is the fourth leading cause of death among Filipino males, and sixth among Filipino females.
Despite these facts, little attention is accorded to leukemia in the country.
Adult leukemia, which is really a group of diseases, can be a baffling condition for patients and families to understand, and finding targeted information on individual conditions can be difficult.
Amidst a backdrop of the seriousness of the disease, EPCALM now stands as an instrument of hope that is inspired by our Lord.
Acknowledging that God is the Hope, the Healer, and the Provider, EPCALM aims to be a vehicle through which patients afflicted with leukemia will experience Godâ€™s love and faithfulness
EPCALMâ€™s vision: To establish and be an internationally recognized center of excellence for spiritual, physical and emotional nourishment of leukemia patients as they journey towards wholeness.
EPCALMsÂ awareness is fueled by a battery of top celebrities in the country who have volunteered to be ambassadors seeking to connect leukemia patients and to echo the hope that lies for cancer patients.
These celebrities include Boy Abunda, Martin Nievera, sisters Ann and Jasmin Curtis, Tirso Cruz III among others.
Many activities have been lined up in observance of WLAM.
Last week, EPCALM conducted a Understand Grief seminar, inviting experts from abroad to talk about the many facets and dimensions of grief in the hope of assisting people cope with their emotionsÂ after suffering loss.
EPCALM as a service organization aims to provide personalized and family oriented support to those afflicted with leukemia and their families.
Its mission is to reach out to these families and their communities as well in order to create an awareness of the plight of leukemia patients and that with concerted efforts the outcome of the disease can be favorable.
EPCALM leads the country in the awareness campaign for leukemia and its multifaceted concerns from the physical, financial emotional or psychosocial and spiritual aspects.
EPCALM hopes that soon its efforts to elevate this observance to a truly national level will be attained by a signed executive order from Pres. Aquino. (By Atty. Jay Dejaresco)