I was recently invited to attend Project Pink Cancer Support Group’s “Look Good, Feel Good” makeup workshop for cancer conquerors as a PR writer/blogger. I thought I would just be there to observe, learn how to put on makeup, write what I had seen and experience, then submit the article to publications. Little did I know that I would be on an emotional roller coaster, given the fact that my parents both died of cancer, and I was surrounded by cancer conquerors. Somehow, just the thought of being surrounded by cancer conquerors made me feel vulnerable.
I was a little nervous when I arrived at the venue. Maybe it’s also because somehow, I already knew that I would inevitably remember my parents… Or, maybe it’s because none of the bloggers and journalists I have invited could make it, given the bad weather and late notice, so I had to be there by myself. I mean, these days, I would be the one to coordinate PR events and contact the writers, who would write about the event, and not the other way around, so I guess that added to my discomfort.
It was such a relief then when I saw familiar faces. It turned out that two of the core members of Project Pink Cancer Support Group and some of its volunteers and staff were my former churchmates. One of them was even one of our wedding sponsors or ninang sa kasal, Dr. Rumalie Alparaque-Corvera, who heads the organization.
As the day progressed, I felt more comfortable. I interviewed the people seated at the same table with me, and listened to the other cancer conquerors’ stories of faith. Somehow, I could relate to all of them, although listening to them brought painful memories of my mother fighting off cancer. Between her and my father, she had the more painful and challenging experience with this dreaded disease.
I watched how the Maquillage Professional (MP) School of Makeup Artistry consultants and students made the cancer conquerors very happy, too. They gave them free makeovers, aside from teaching them how to apply makeup properly. Everyone was given a free makeover, including myself.
The Project Pink women obviously took a lot of care in making everyone feel comfortable and happy, from the adorable table setting, the delicious foods they served, and the whole program that encouraged everyone in the room to continue to have hope and live a normal life. If I weren’t told that it was a gathering of cancer conquerors (and their supporters), I wouldn’t be able to tell that there was any person in the room battling with or had battled with cancer. Their faces were radiant and their sense of humor, intact.
I also had a chance to speak with the program host, a cancer conqueror herself, and one of Project Pink Cancer Support Group’s (PPCSG) core members Melissa De Leon Joseph. In case you’re not aware, Melissa happens to be veteran actor Christopher De Leon’s sister and was an actress herself. Melissa was very warm and friendly. She told me more about PPCSG and their activities, and we exchanged personal stories about cancer–she as a cancer conqueror herself and I as a family member and caregiver of a cancer conqueror, leaving me teary-eyed. (Or, was it just me who shared a personal story?)
According to Melissa, Project Pink Cancer Support Group aims to empower cancer conquerors living in the south of Manila, i.e., from Cavite, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, and Laguna. They are not a foundation, but a care group that tries to look after the needs, especially emotional and psychological, of cancer patients and survivors, who are more aptly called cancer conquerors. PPCSG educates the cancer conquerors and their caregivers about the disease and its possible treatments, so they would be better informed about what they are dealing with and make wiser decisions for themselves. PPCSG also organizes activities that would help keep the conquerors productive, at the same time, encourage their creativity and lift their self-confidence.
Since cancer treatments are very expensive, Project Pink Cancer Support Group also raises funds to assist the families of cancer conquerors with the medical expenses. Moreover, they help cancer conquerors continue to have hope and strengthen their faith in God by conducting fellowships and Bible studies, as well as special seminars every second Wednesday and last Saturday of the month.
Melissa added that this was the first time they have invited bloggers to their event. Project Pink Cancer Support Group needs help in letting others know that they exist to encourage and support cancer conquerors. They are inviting more individuals to volunteer. Volunteers could help in various tasks, such as preparing the venue for their meetings and special events, blog about their events, take photos and videos during events, etc., but most importantly, visit the cancer conquerors to help make them feel better.
Of course, at the mention of the word volunteers, I found myself thinking how I could support the group, mentally calculating how much time I could spend in a week or a month helping out with some of the support group’s tasks. Really, how could I not, when I, myself, was a daughter and caregiver to cancer conquerors, and a recipient of others’ goodwill, especially when my family and I were going through very difficult times? Not to mention that volunteering is part of my way of life, although I’m afraid I still need to seriously review my schedule.
As I mingled with the rest of the core group, I could feel the love and compassion they have not only for the members that they have been taking care of for some time now, but also for family members of cancer conquerors such as myself, who have met most of them for the first time. I couldn’t help wishing that Mama was still alive. She would have wanted to be part of this group.
If you know any cancer conqueror living in the south of Manila, please do not hesitate to invite him/her to join Project Pink Cancer Support Group. Although PPCSG regularly meets at Asian Hospital Medical Center and most of them are female, cancer conquerors from other hospitals in the south, including males, are welcome to join.
Moreover, if you have the time, money, energy, skills, or compassion alone for cancer conquerors, please consider volunteering and/or donating. You may contact Angie at 0917 527 6461 or Liza at 0917 343 9077 for more information.
On the other hand, if you’d like to get in touch with Maquillage Professional School of Makeup Artistry, you may visit http://mpschool.com.ph. ❤
P.S. If you happen to live outside of South Manila, you may visit http://www.philcancer.org.ph/support/support-groups/ to find cancer support groups near you.