Many know Diego Castro as the teen idol in a popular television show at ABS-CBN called Gimik in the 90’s who grew up to be a news anchor appearing in morning and evening shows. But if there’s one role he’s probably most passionate about, it is being a cancer awareness advocate because he himself knew the harrowing ordeal brought by cancer to a family.
Diego’s story is closely entwined with that of his father’s, Angelo Castro, who was also an actor and renowned broadcast anchor. He was caregiver to his father, who battled with lung cancer for four years until he passed away in 2012.
Not only was it Angelo’s journey with the illness that moved Diego to be a cancer awareness
advocate, but his mother, actress June Keithley, also succumbed to cancer of the breast a year after his father’s demise. This instilled a purpose in Diego to be a source of hope for cancer patients, their caregivers and families, by spreading the message that cancer need not anymore be an automatic death sentence as long as early screening is regularly observed, combined with getting access to innovative cancer treatments available today.
Diego started to believe in the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when Angelo Castro was diagnosed with lung cancer 10 years after he quit smoking. This is why Diego became an advocate for early testing to detect malignancies. “Keep on getting tested. Stay alive for your loved ones,” he emphasizes.
Diego first learned of his father’s condition at a time when he had a strained relationship with him. “Just when I was resolved to trying to fix things with my dad, all of a sudden, I have four months to resolve things with him.”
Angelo outlived the doctor’s prognosis, but the family could have been with him longer if only he got tested early and if only innovative treatments were available at that time.
Thus, Diego became an advocate for a cause that’s very close to his heart. He is part of the Hope From Within: Test, Talk, Take Action campaign together with the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Society of Oncologists, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and MSD in the Philippines.
Test, Talk, Take Action encourages people to take a proactive stance against lung cancer through early diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The biggest benefit of being diagnosed early is getting into suitable treatment early as well, thus increasing the chances of survival and adding more years to one’s life.
Hope From Within recently expanded to Cancer Game Plan PH which is geared to systematically change the face of disease care – highlighting existing targeted therapies and breakthrough new treatments—such as immunotherapy – that address a greater body of cancers including, aside from lung cancer, melanoma, head and neck, gastric, bladder, and Hodgkin lymphoma types of cancers.
Diego is fighting cancer and supporting patients and their families together with his Cancer Game Plan PH co-influencers such as television personality Susan Africa; medical oncologist and Kaalaman at Katotohanan Tungkol sa Kanser (KKK) Facebook community founder Dr. Meredith Garcia; multi-sport athlete and cancer survivor Louie Sangalang; Occupational Medicine specialist and breast cancer survivor Dr. Gia Sison, and melanoma survivor Danny Dimabuyu.
Cancer Game Plan PH also spreads information on how patients can get financial support for their treatment through PhilHealth and subsidy from the PCSO, and has supported the passing of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act or Cancer Bill in the Philippines into a law which would establish a Philippine Cancer Center and institutionalize a national control program.
Diego Castro’s story is a story of a son who fought cancer with his father and is continuing to do so together with cancer patients and their families.
1. Rappler.com. Diego Castro: From teen idol to news anchor to cancer awareness advocate.