Radiant Health Woman of Action: Ify NwabukwuBy Osayi Endolyn
Published: November 3, 2014
“It Does Not Have To Be So”
Ify Nwabukwu is a registered nurse with a bachelors of science in nursing, but when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 1990, the family’s next step wasn’t immediately clear. Nwabukwu’s mother needed a mastectomy, but she could not afford one. Even worse, her status as a visitor in the U.S. made her ineligible for state and federal aid. Nwabukwu turned to her community and ultimately sourced pro bono treatment for her mother. But the experience revealed gaps in the African immigrant community’s access to health care that Nwabukwu had not previously noticed.
“So many African women get diagnosed with cancer and don’t know where to go,” Nwabukwu says. In addition, cancer in the African community can be perceived with stigma. As a result, treatment is delayed, often leading to death in cases where it might not have been imminent. Nwabukwu believes “it does not have to be so.”
Nwabukwu founded the African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association to increase education, preventive measures and access to health care services. Members and volunteers come from countries throughout Africa, and include survivors who reassure uncertain, new patients.
Ten years of service has made Nwabukwu appreciative of life, and her efforts to represent others has challenged her shy tendencies. “I’ve changed from an introvert to a fearless individual,” she says. “Through our work, we empower women to be proactive in taking care of their health; to be their own best advocate.”
Learn more at www.awcaa.org
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