Saturday, January 30, 2010

Biker Heroes Pedal Against Cervical Cancer

In the quest to save lives, triumph awaits at the end of a 500-kilometer road.

And with every drop of sweat, the bikers who will participate at this year’s “The Tour of Hope” – the Philippines’ largest anti-cervical cancer biking tour spanning Manila to the Cordilleras – shall become heroes in their own right. As they push the pedal further, the participants will come closer to rescuing more Filipinas from the deathly grip of this preventable female disease.

Faced with the threat of the fatal female disease which kills 12 Filipinas on a daily basis, “The Tour of Hope” was set up in 2008 by different individuals in their commitment to spread cervical cancer awareness in the Philippines. And for three years in the running, the cycling tour has been able to raise more than half a million in funds through sponsorships and pledges.

A project of Bravehearts, a multi-sectoral coalition led by the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network (CECAP) and the Cancer Institute Foundation (CIF) which is dedicated to raising awareness on cervical cancer prevention, in cooperation with the Cervical Cancer Prevention (CECAP) Network Program, Rockwell Powerplant Mall, and global pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), in strategic partnership with Team David’s Salon, the cycling tour has managed to attract people from all walks of life. These include personalities such as socialite and columnist Tessa Prieto-Valdes, senator Pia Cayetano, and sports polymath Jeena Lopez, who have joined last years’ biking tour which spanned provinces within Southern Luzon.

For this year, the biking tour’s theme is “The Tour of Hope 360: Fighting Cervical Cancer in Full Circle” – highlighting how the third tour marks the coverage of the whole Luzon area, from Northern to Southern Luzon. And just like the previous years, the tour will once again spread the message of cervical cancer awareness – like they have done in the provinces of Cavite, Batangas, Quezon Provinces, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.

“This year, we’re targeting to conduct talks at Clark Field, Tarlac, Dagupan, La Union, Dagupan and SM Baguio,” says Team David’s Salon biker Joyett Jopson. “We plan to reach out as much possible people and let them know how to prevent cervical cancer – which is through a healthy lifestyle, early screening, and effective cervical cancer vaccination.”
To stop the human papillomavirus (HPV) – the cause of cervical cancer – from infecting women, an effective and relevant cervical cancer vaccine is necessary. GlaxoSmithKline’s cervical cancer vaccine provides significant protection for women against the two most common cancer-causing Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types (HPV types 16 and 18) for at least seven years, the longest duration of protection reported to date. Modelling studies also reveal that it may provide protection for 20 - 50 years, without demonstrating the need for a booster shot or a 4th dose even after more than 7 years of vaccination.

Effective against types 16 and 18, which are responsible for over 70 percent of cervical cancer cases in Asia Pacific, GSK’s cervical cancer vaccine has also shown cervical cancer protection from 12 other cancer-causing HPV types which include HPV strain 45 – another strain which prevalently causes cervical cancer among Filipinas. Designed to last for both young and mature women, females from 10 years old onwards can be vaccinated using GSK’s cervical cancer vaccine.

“Considering the burden of cervical cancer here in the country, we support the Tour of Hope’s advocacy in spreading awareness about this fatal female disease,” says Dr. Carrie Purugganan, GSK Medical Affairs Manager. “And we want Filipinas to know that there is a cervical cancer vaccine that shows the most promise in defending them from cervical cancer.”

The road may be rough and arduous, but with the inspiration that more and more Filipinas will live free from the disease, pedaling to the end is a priceless victory.
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