Chemotherapy in the Philippines

Each chemotherapy session in the Philippines would cost around P50,000. 

When we search for 'chemotherapy' and other chemotherapy-related topic on search engines online, results are usually from Wikis and other websites that don't have the information we want to know, especially if one want to search for a Philippine-related results.

This blog post aims to inform Filipinos what really chemotherapy is, and take a glimpse on what are the real scenarios these Pinoy chemotherapy patients have to go trough in order to survive.

Chemotherapy according to a breast cancer website is, a procedure that uses medicine to weaken and destroy cancer cells in the body, including cells at the original cancer site and any cancer cells that may have spread to another part of the body. Chemotherapy, often shortened to just "chemo," is a systemic therapy, which means it affects the whole body by going through the bloodstream.


I have the pleasure to interview Mrs. Joy of Karuhatan, Valenzuela City last Wednesday. 49 years of age. She is a factory worker for 27 years at Universal Towel which is also located in Valenzuela City. She’s already married with two kids, one girl and one boy. Her husband is a welder who has plan to work abroad to earn more.

Mrs. Joy is actually the aunt of my housemate’s friend. When I first saw her, I can immediately notice her jolly attitude as she greeted me. She's wearing a pink striped sleeveless dress with her jeans and slippers on. At first glance, she looks normal but when you stare longer at her, you will notice that his right breast is missing. She’s not thin, if not for this interview. You can’t tell that she undergo chemotherapy.

She invited me to their living room, when I saw her husband in his mid 40's which greeted me and told me that he’s one who is always reminding Mrs. Joy, to not forget to take her medicines daily, and then he laugh a little. At that point, I can already tell that this is a happy bunch.


On May 15, 2009, Universal Towel has this annual medical checkup, free for all its employees and Mrs. Joy treats it as a regular day, since she’s with the company for 27 years now. But she’s not aware that their yearly checkup will turn her life around.

Upon checking her, the doctor felt something unusual at her right breast and found out that she has cysts. At first, she was hesitant to believe what the doctor told her, so she asked medical opinion from three different specialists from three different hospitals – Chinese General Hospital, Santo Tomas University Hospital and Philippine General Hospital. But all these hospitals proved that she indeed has breast cancer and it was already on Stage 2, which really shattered her.

She told me that she don’t want to believe that she has breast cancer because she still feels healthy. “I was really depressed at first and I felt that I will no longer live, I immediately think of my family. What will happen to them if ever” Mrs. Joy told me.


On June 2009, she undergoes operation to remove big and small cysts on her right breast at Philippine General Hospital (PGH). She was not happy with the outcome because she still felt something painful in her chest area. So she underwent six chemotherapy sessions the following month, July 2009.

At the first few sessions she felt normal and told me that the chemotherapy has no side effects on her body, but on her succeeding therapy, she felt very weak and numbness on her muscle. “I have no appetite at all, no liquid intake even rice porridge. Back then my husband would beg me just to eat.” She detailed. “I forcibly eat citrus fruits just to have energy. I do it for my family.” She added. Not just that, she also experience lots of vomiting, sleeplessness and even full hair loss, she notice a lot of fallen hair whenever she took a bath.

“Naawa talaga ako sa sarili, kaya madalas akong umiiyak n’un.” Mrs. Joy said. She added that she suffers from low self esteem, and don’t want to go outside because of her hair loss. To hide her sickness she resorted in using bandana, cap and even wearing wigs occasionally.

She loves her family and the encouragement of them keeps her strong. “At times like this, you will really need the presence of your loved ones.” She said.


One week after the operation she took Amoxicillin and other pain reliever as prescribed by the doctor, but the main medicine to treat her cancer is Tamoxisen, the brand name is Gyraxen from Korea. The doctor told her to take one tablet every day, for five years. The cost of the tablet is P22.00 pesos each. She also told me, that luckily she get some support from the local government. She receives free medicine from the congressman of her district, on a regular basis.

She even showed me some of the detoxifying juices she takes, to help her deal with cancer every single day. This includes Red Juice, Cranberry Juice, Herbalize Juice, Mega C and Berri Breakfast Juice. She even invited me to try one of her detoxifying juices, Berri Breakfast Juice which consist a mixture of passion fruit, apricot, peach, mango, pineapple and orange. It taste sour but it’s refreshing. She said it’s imported from Australia, each 2.4 liter costs P169.00 pesos.

She also boils the roots and leaves of guyabano tree and drink its extract, it’s for detoxification also. Some of her detoxifying juices were discovered via TV programs like ABS-CBN’s Rated K, and she said it was also endorsed by Cory Quirino so she tried it.

When asked if she use the Internet to get more information on cancer and other related information. She said, no because she don’t have time to research on the internet because she feels contented on what the doctors told him and up to now, she doesn’t know how to use the internet yet. She also believes that the radiation coming from the computer can also harm her.


You can self-check if you have a breast cancer, regularly check your chest area and if you feel something extraordinary (abnormal swelling or increase in pain as you touch it) then, go to the nearest hospital for a professional opinion. Please be informed that this disease is not exclusive for females. There’s a lot of male who has this type of cancer.

Her advice to people that when you found out that you have cancer, don’t believe it immediately, ask for second opinion or even third, to found out if it’s indeed true. That’s what she did when she found out the bad news.

Also, the earlier detection of cancer cells, the better. Recent technological breakthrough has the capability of eliminating cancer cells faster, if it’s in earlier stage.

“If the medical tests confirmed that you have cancer, don’t lose hope and be strong. Don’t think that you’re sick. Keep thinking positive and keep the faith in God. Be emotionally, physically and spiritually ready to overcome this hurdle.”

“If you have extra money try other alternative medicines or remedies for cancer like herbal medicines. It’s effective yet affordable.”

“You can also ask some helpful tips from cancer survivors for extra knowledge for this sickness. Like for example, now you can immediately search on the internet for tips, unlike me who didn’t know how to use the internet up to now.” She ended.

We talked for more than three hours with her husband and her nephew and she looks very positive. I’m actually expecting that she would feel emotional as we go along, but she didn’t. Actually I’m the one who feel that way, as she share her experience to me. This lady earned a lot of respect from me.

Right now even though she has no right breast, she still feels positive in recovering and she’s very happy that her hair is coming back to life. Moments such as this, makes me think that we should all live life to the fullest, but make sure that we all live a healthy life!

On a final note, I can say that being positive in life can really go a long way.

photo credits: iStockPhoto, VaccinationDangers and SouthernersJournal.



  1. i really admire her courage despite the things that happened to her. This can also means than the encouragement from loved ones in terms of crisis, really helps in solving the problem.

  2. "She also believes that the radiation coming from the computer can also harm her."

    i don't think that's true. siguro kung CRT yung PC monitor niya. Anyway I'm suprised na merong mga taga Metro Manila na di pa marunong gumamit ng internet :)

  3. The big C is the scariest sickness to me 'cause I don't want to live my life bed-ridden, taking all those medications and going through chemotherapy. That's why I admire those who have survived it and are living their lives to the fullest.

  4. Very informative blog post Jay! Dealing life with a cancer is a tough one! From significant others to hospitalization to medicines...and so on. Support from the family really helps and continuous medications... I admire her!

  5. nice blog post. in full honestly, i am really afraid of getting into hospitals -- i am in fear of getting sick with cancers and be treated with chemotherapy.

  6. "...It takes The Big C to overcome The Big C. It takes the Biggest Courage to fight the Big Cancer."
    - The other ‘Big C’ to fight the ‘Big C’ (

    i'll include her in my prayers..

  7. I have a lot of relatives who succumbed to cancer and I cant imagine myself being a victim. I admire the people who put up with this sickness as it definitely requires a lot of courage and determination. to survive, you need a strong heart....

  8. @oishimanjuju:
    yes, her courage is amazing if that happen to me I would feel so down.

    @John Shane:
    I think he still remembered the old myth about computers and yes, CRT has some sort of radiation, if we can call it that way but with the advent of LCD and LED monitors, I think it lessen na.

    I'm so afraid of that disease too just like everyone else. I can't do a lot of things if I have this kind of ailment.

    thanks for the compliment! I hope this interview can help a handful of people in preventing this type of cancer.

    thanks so much for visiting my blog :) I wish everyone a healthy 2011!

    that's what Mrs. Joy has a lot courage, which is really needed in times like this!

  9. pusang kalye:
    so true. I'm afraid of cancer also, and in my mother's side there's a lot of cases similar to this. So that's scary on my part.

  10. I have a co-worker who was diagnosed with breast cancer but it became complicated when she found out that she's pregnant. But due to her cheerful, positive outlook in life and faith in God she was able to surpass surgery and chemo and the best part of it, she delivered a healthy baby :)

    For all those suffering from cancer, this is just a testimony that there is cure if you believe and help yourself fight the battle and most especially don't lose the faith.

  11. i've been assigned a year on oncology ward(cancer patients)last year, and seeing patients losing hope everyday is so hard.But what can I DO,its part of my work ,to motivate them to have a normal quality life and at least relieved even for a while the pain and hardships that they've been going through.

    And as I observed the main reason why they ended that way is the late detection and protection of cancer.Annual check-up is very important esp if your family history has it or if theres any abnormalities happening into your body.

  12. My grandpa died from Lung CA. So i know how it affects the patient as well as the rest of the family; Emotionally and Financially. Chemotherapy even made my lolo's bones very brittle, and so his left arm suddenly broke of itself completely.

    If you have CA and have enough money, one can try Fuda Cancer Hospital in China. They specialize in Cryosurgery instead of regular surgery, and in Localized Chemotherapy instead of the traditional General Chemo where the entire human body is being exposed to harmful drugs.

  13. At the rate we're living our lives, it can't be long before people without history of cancer suddenly develop the cells. There are two things our government should give priority to: (1) health, and (2) education.

  14. nakakaawatalaga ang mga tang my sakit nakagaya nito, good thing that a lot of people are still helping them. Also make people aware about this desease on line also is a big help.

  15. this is a very informative blog post. thanks for the wonderful and useful information

  16. ung gf ko kelangang i surgery at kunin ung bukol sa dibdib nya, at ung makukuhang bukol ay ipa babiopsy upang malaman kung gaano na kalala ang bukol nayon. umaasa kameing ito ay fibroadinomia lamang ngunit kung sakaling hindi at habang nag hihintay sa kanyang schedule ng pag surgery nag hahanap po ako ng mga makakatulong sakin para sa mga kailangang gawin at mga institusyong makakatulong sa amin upang malabanan namin ang pinagdadaanan niyang karamdaman. paki email lamang po sa akin ang mga komento ninyo aasahan ko po ang tulong mula sa inyo

  17. hi hope you can refer some of your friends or kakilala's to Danny Meneses (dad of Buhawi Meneses) . Danny is the president of Philippine Breast Cancer Network or PBCN

    We consulted him right after my mother's mastectomy (she was diagnosed with Stage 2B Breast Cancer last January 2010)... Danny is not a medical practitioner, but we learned a lot from him on how to manage cancer and how to navigate the conflicting advices from both conventional and alternative medical practitioner and make an informed decision on how to treat/manage their cancer.

    Hope this helps.


  18. guys pa help naman po aksi ung mom ng GF ko may stage 2 breast cancer nag check kami sa NKTI kaso 1m daw ung 6 cycle ng chemo tapos 80k yung medicine after... so nag hahanap sana kami ng mas mura... please help po paki e-mail nlng po me or add me sa FB account ko same lang po yan e-mail and FB account salamat po ng marami.

  19. hi.
    im offering some chemotherapy drugs IRINOTECAN, FOLINIC ACID, FU and ondansetron, hnd n po kasi gagamitin ng mom ko pang isang cycle etong set na to work 33k but ibbgay na lang po nmin ng 50% off para lang maka add sa pambili ng maintenance pain reliever which is quiet expensive din

  20. Hi po sa lahat last week LNG nadiognosed mama ko with cervical cancer,at first sad tlga kmi at kahit sa work di kmi mkapagconcentrate ng siblings ko...till narealize ko we should be strong for her para maging strong din sya...inaantay pa nmin what stage na un cancer na,so while waiting me alternative herbal treatment syang ginagawa like paginom ng guyabano (boiled leaves) ginagawa nyang tea....gagawin nmin lahat for her so I need Ur help po pls.pray for her na sana makayanan Nya lahat at mawala na un active cancer cells Nya sa katawan....Delisa Julaton name ng mama q, sa ngaun lahat kming 3 mgkakapatid wala sa piling niya were working overseas...btw mgkano po ba ang chemo therapy

  21. I think you may be right in what you have said in this article. Whoever there are many people will not agree with you.

  22. actually i felt so down right now because i have a mass on my right breast and is very painful that's why i decided to research in the internet to get information regarding this..i'm so happy to read this story kasi hindi p naman siguro ako mamamatay... 1 year and a half na ko may cyst s breast pero benign naman pero sa ngaun meron akong nramdaman n mass n kakaiba sa dati malaking bukol at namamaga sya... sa chinese general hospital ako nag papacheck, isang ob ang doctor ko gusto ko lang itanong kung tama b n s ob ako mag pa check up? i'm planning n bumalik sa doctor this saturday pero i want to know kung anong klaseng doctor b ako dapat magpacheck sa ganitong klaseng sakit? si Ms. joy kanino b sya magka check up bago pwdeng humingi ng info about her doctor and hospital. thank you in advance...

  23. The in depth analysis that you have given is of great value to me. Keep the world updated with the information, I think you have a great amount of knowledge and people like can learn a lot from you now.

  24. Hi
    I've been read your post and It is very touching.
    If you have any question about cancer just visit my site!

  25. Noah anong site mo gusto ko i-visit?

  26. My mom has a colon cancer stage 2 and I am in the process of thinking of applying chemo in her case.

  27. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

    study abroad

  28. good day.. i read your post at it made me cry while reading on it, i remember my mom what will happen to her if mag chemo na cya.. actually i get the result of biopsy and histopath yesterday that my mom was diagnosed breast cancer stage 3b. nung sinabi nung doctor na ganun nga yung result dami na naglaro sa isip ko na pano matanggap ni mama at kakayanin yung chemo, kasi nga yung operation lang matagal pa namin cya nakumbinsi paopera na.. thank god at nalinawanagan ang isip ni mama at pumayag na cya.. 2 weeks ago she undergo operation on her left breast. ngayon nagpapagaling na po cya at para bumalik yung sigla ng katawan nya. after waiting for the result i searched on the net about the guyabano na miraculous, kya try ko po kay mama.. wala naman po mawawala at herbal naman cya, until now take pa din cya ng guyabano tea. according to the result, her doc advised to undergo radio, chemo and hormonal therapy.. di ko alam pano ko sasabihin sa kanya kya i went to my sister's office to tell her whats the result all about.. then she call my mom to tell her, then i texted my aunt hows mama she said my mom is crying, ayaw pumayag pachemo kasi masakit daw... until i went home, at sinabi ko lahat yung explanation nung doctor.. at tumawag na din si papa and kuya ko, asa abroad cla OFW, at pumayag naman na po cya. thank god... kaya ngayon were looking for a hospital na may radio and chemotheraphy... im asking for a help guys, if meron po silang alama na pwede namin puntahan.. we already have on the list are Quirino Memorial Medical Center and East Avenue Medical Center.. baka po may iba pa po silang alam na hospital na pwede kaming mag-inquire.. thanks guys for the help. i know it will help us alot.. here's my email add

  29. hi rrramos

    i was diagnosed with stage 1 BC and underwent chemotherapy sa Saint Martin de Porres Charity Hospitalin San Juan. They only charge for the room plus doctor's fee na 1k lang BUT you have to buy the chemo drugs plus other equipment outside. total gastos ko was 8k per session UNLESS recomendahan ako ng isa pang drug kung mababa yung WBC ko, which costed an additional 17k, twice lang naman nangyari sa akin. they dont do radiation though.

    you can also try sa Chinese Gen, I heard mura lang din magpa chemo dun :) hope this helps and all the best for your mom.