Driven by her desire to create a better future for her family, Catherine Edria seized an opportunity to work as a domestic helper in Singapore. Little did she know that this journey would soon take an unexpected turn, forever altering her path. Her pursuit of a brighter future for her loved ones as a domestic helper dimmed when she noticed something unusual growing in her stomach. What she initially thought was pregnancy turned out to be a rare and formidable adversary—a stage 4 sarcoma called desmoplastic small round cell, adding her up to the limited number of patients who acquired this rare type of cancer.

Alone in a foreign land, Catherine struggled to make ends meet with insufficient income. The weight of her situation grew heavier as she grappled with the distance from her family and the limited options available to her. Her employer extended financial assistance for her diagnostic tests and initial medical needs abroad. But she was aware that this support would not last indefinitely. Determined to find a medical institution in the Philippines that could accommodate her needs, Catherine and her employer worked closely with the doctors to ensure a smooth transition. Understanding the urgency of the situation, her Singaporean doctor reached out to Dr. Mary Igot, a trusted colleague, to discuss Catherine’s rare cancer case and plan the next steps for her medical treatment. In their extensive discussions, the doctors delved into the intricacies of Catherine’s condition, exploring potential avenues for her care. In this discussion, both doctors knew that the next step in her medical care is to undergo one of the most advanced chemotherapy treatments for cancer, Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) in combination with Cytoreductive Surgery (CRS).

Dr. Igot knew that Catherine nor her employer will be able to shoulder the expenses for this treatment which led her to reach out to the charity arm of Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Asian Hospital Charities Inc. (AHCI) to partially subsidize the treatment. With unwavering dedication, the entire medical team both at Asian Hospital and in Singapore rallied together to facilitate Catherine’s journey back home. Spearheaded by Dr. Mary Igot and a team of skilled residents from Asian Hospital, an extensive preparation process was meticulously orchestrated in order to prepare Catherine to receive her HIPEC- CRS treatment.

The day of Catherine’s long-awaited arrival was met with anticipation and a carefully coordinated plan. An ambulance stood at the ready, poised to transport her directly to Asian Hospital. Upon her arrival, a team of healthcare professionals awaited her, prepared to provide the necessary care and evaluation. This critical evaluation would serve as a pivotal step in her healing journey, offering renewed hope and the potential for a better future.

The Weight of Catherine’s Tumor

Catherine’s once-flat abdomen had transformed into a striking bulge, resembling that of a full-term pregnant woman, if not larger, according to some doctors. The magnitude of her condition was evident, demanding immediate action upon her return. Not long after her arrival, she was able to receive her HIPEC treatment. During this treatment, Catherine went through a CytoReductive Surgery (CRS), a highly specialized complex procedure to remove the tumors. Given her condition and the overgrowth of her tumors, the operation took almost 10 – 12 hours, performed by Dr. Marc Paul Lopez, one of the few Philippine experts on CRS. After removing kilos of tumor from her body, HIPEC was done to eliminate tumor residues.

HIPEC and how it helped Catherine

HIPEC, or Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy in combination with CytoReductive Surgery (CRS), is a specialized treatment approach used to combat certain types of cancer that have spread to the abdominal cavity. It combines CRS with targeted chemotherapy to deliver a potent and localized treatment directly to the affected area.

The HIPEC-CRS procedure involves several steps. First, an extensive surgical operation is performed to remove visible tumors and any visible disease within the abdominal cavity. The CRS intervention aims to excise as much of the cancerous tissue as possible.

After the tumor removal, HIPEC is done wherein a heated chemotherapy solution is infused directly into the abdominal cavity. The chemotherapy drugs used in HIPEC are specifically selected to target the type of cancer being treated. The solution is warmed to a higher temperature than the body’s normal temperature.

The heat serves multiple purposes during HIPEC. It helps to enhance the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drugs, as the elevated temperature makes cancer cells more susceptible to the cytotoxic effects of the drugs. Additionally, the heat improves drug penetration into the tissues, ensuring better distribution of the chemotherapy within the abdominal cavity.

The chemotherapy solution is circulated throughout the abdominal cavity for a specific period, typically ranging from 60 to 120 minutes. This extended exposure to heated chemotherapy allows for thorough eradication of any remaining cancer cells or microscopic disease that may have been missed during surgery.

HIPEC is most commonly used for cancers that have originated in or have spread to the abdominal cavity, such as certain types of ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, appendiceal cancer, and mesothelioma. The treatment is performed by a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, oncologists, and specialized medical professionals who work collaboratively to tailor the procedure to each patient’s specific needs.

After undergoing this treatment, Catherine’s stomach significantly reduced in size. This treatment also gave her better fighting chance to still beat the Big C. Further, her response to cancer medication will significantly improve giving her the potential for a longer lease of life.

The Meaning of Alagang Deserve, Alagang Sulit for All Walks of Life in Action

Catherine’s battle doesn’t end after receiving her HIPEC-CRS treatment. As a service patient, there are still medications and diagnostic tests to fund to which the medical team and the Asian Hospital Charities Inc. collaboratively and wholeheartedly responded to. Everyone played a significant role in order to help Catherine survive her day-to-day needs. The resident doctors with the help of Asian Hospital Charities, Inc. took the lead in finding ways to sustain her medications gathering help from wherever possible and sourcing the patient’s needs.

Catherine’s case sparked and proved that the bayanihan spirit in Asian Hospital and Asian Hospital Charities Inc. continues to ignite in the heart of the experts. It was later on that the team noticed that she was placed in the bayanihan ward, a coincidence, indeed.

A Triumphant Return to Hometown

After a 10-day stay at Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Catherine received the green light to return to her hometown and continue her medication there. The medical team ensured a smooth transition by preparing a comprehensive turnover report and coordinating with the receiving hospital. This meticulous handover of information and care instructions would allow Catherine to continue her treatment in a more stable condition, increasing the likelihood of improved outcomes.

When Catherine initially left for Singapore, she had a different vision of how it would be when she comes home. but after battling the toughest enemy and continuously beating the odds of her case’s undefined survival rate, there’s no better triumph than to go home to her family alive and breathing. As of writing, Catherine is now in Iloilo reunited with her beloved family claiming a different treasure, a treasure we can often neglect to acknowledge, a treasure we call — life.

Asian Cancer Institute and HIPEC-CRS

Asian Hospital’s Asian Cancer Institute (ACI) stands as a beacon of hope for patients battling cancer. With its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class medical expertise, ACI offers a comprehensive range of advanced treatments, including the groundbreaking Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy – CytoReductive Surgery (HIPEC-CRS) procedure.

HIPEC-CRS, a revolutionary approach in cancer treatment, combines surgery and targeted chemotherapy to combat abdominal cancers. This highly specialized procedure is performed by a team of skilled surgeons and oncologists who work tirelessly to deliver personalized and effective care to each patient.

With a commitment to excellence, ACI continuously strives to push boundaries in cancer care. Its unwavering dedication to improving patient outcomes and quality of life has earned it a reputation as a leading cancer institute in the region.

If you or a loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis, trust the expertise and compassionate care offered by Asian Hospital’s Asian Cancer Institute. Together, we embark on a journey towards healing, empowerment, and a brighter future.

For inquiries, contact Asian Cancer Institute at (02) 8771-9000 local 8105 or email at

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on Asian Hospital. By continued use, you accept our use of such cookies.