Holly Reines, president of the American Women’s Club of the Philippines, is an early-stage cancer survivor. She flies back to the United States annually to see her oncologist and undergo tests – a routine that she knows is important and yet “tedious and very expensive.”
Reines is just one of several women with the same predicament. But the good news came in October last year with the opening of the Asian Breast Center at Centuria Medical Makati.
“I was relieved when I found out about the services that Asian Breast Center offers because I don’t need to go to the US for my regular breast checkup,” Reines said.
The Asian Breast Center hopes to be the first comprehensive ambulatory breast center outside the US to be recognized and certified by the American College of Surgeons. Asian Breast Center strictly adheres to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) guidelines This assures patients that they are getting the same quality and standard of care as when they go to leading breast cancer hospitals in the US.
Sharon Horsman, president of the British Women’s Association of the Philippines, relates her serendipitous discovery of the new facility In October 2017. The three groups –the British Women’s Association, American Women’s Club, and the Australia New Zealand Association– were looking for a speaker for an event that they were co-hosting. Over a casual lunch that almost got cancelled, a dear friend told her, “I have just the man!”
And so Horsman met Dr. Norman San Agustin, founder of the Asian Breast Center, who graciously agreed to do the talk. A morning Pink Tea event in Blackbird restaurant was organized shortly thereafter, attended by 75 guests from the women’s clubs including British Ambassador to the Philippines, Daniel Pruce.
“(The venue) was completely full; standing room only! Dr. Norman did a wonderful presentation. We achieved our goal in raising awareness for breast cancer and making our members aware that there are facilities here now in the Philippines. And we don’t have to go all the way back to our own countries for treatments and checkups. It was a wonderful experience,” Horsman shares.
The ladies did not stop there, however, in their support for the cause. Reines, Horsman and two more colleagues Teresa Conde-Bilbao and Terri Cutts paid the Asian Breast Center a visit in February 2018 turnover some cash donations.
“We were inspired by Dr. San Agustin’s story of giving back—of how a renowned doctor in the US specializing in breast cancer decided to come home and put up a for-profit-for-charity breast cancer facility to help his countrymen. That is a cause we believe in and support,” Horsman adds.
Asian Breast Center is the first freestanding for-profit-for charity ambulatory comprehensive breast cancer center in Philippines. The center prides itself as a fully equipped, one-stop specialty unit for the management of breast conditions. It provides holistic, comprehensive, and multi-disciplinary approach to breast care including prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment. Among the services offered by the center are: consultation, medical oncology, radiation oncology, minor breast surgeries, breast reconstruction, digital mammography, breast ultrasound as well as scintigraphy and biopsy.
The center also offers the latest breast cancer therapy for early stages. One of these is the Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), an advanced breast cancer treatment for stage 0 to 1. Unlike other radiation therapies that radiates the whole breast, IORT targets mainly the specific area where the cancer is.
For diagnosis, it has the Molecular Breast Imaging machine that can accurately detect cancer even on dense breasts which are common among Asian women.
“The support we received from these group of women will help Asian Breast Center in its mission to reach out and help breast cancer patients and survivors across the country,” shares Dr. Norman San Agustin.
The British Women’s Association has been organizing fundraising and charity events for women and children. The group also provides financial aid to the causes they support. The American Women’s Club of the Philippines, on the other hand, help local charitable organizations that focus on providing education, shelter, and health-related initiatives.
“Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are afraid—I mean, we all are—but it is treatable especially when caught early on. With the world-class facilities and the standard of care that Asian Breast Center at Centuria Medical Makati has, it is comforting to have your treatments done here rather than go abroad,” says Horsman.
“It is good to have yourself checked whenever needed. Prevention is always better than cure,” adds Teresa Conde-Bilbao,” vice-president at the British Women’s Association of the Philippines.
Visit the Asian Breast Center at the 8th floor of Centuria Medical Makati, located at Century City on Kalayaan Avenue corner Salamanca Street, Brgry. Poblacion, Makati City. For more details and information call 86301616 or visit http://www.centuriamedical.com.ph/centers/breast-center/, https://www.facebook.com/asianbreastcenterPH/ and https://www.facebook.com/centuriamedicalofficial.
From left: Women’s clubs unite to Asian Breast Center. In the photo are (from left) Teresa Conde- Bilbao, Vice President of British Women’s Association of the Philippines (BWA); Holly Reines, President of American Women’s Club of the Philippines; Dr. Norman San Agustin, President of Asian Breast Center; Sharon Horsman, President of BWA; and Terri Cutts, Treasurer of BWA, taken during the ladies’ visit to Asian Breast Center at Centuria Medical Makati on February 2018.