Ify Nwabuku is the founder of African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association, a non-profit organization established in 2004 by a coalition of African immigrant women health professionals.
Ify, a medical practitioner, started the organisation after she lost her mother and her best friend to breast cancer.
When Ify’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990, there was no way she could be treated as she was just visiting her daughter in the US at the time. So, she was not qualified for Medicaid.
With the help of her friends in the medical profession, Ify’s mother got some treatment.
After the treatment, Ify’s mother travelled back to Nigeria where there was little or no follow up treatment. Although she lived 17 years after then, she died of breast cancer metastasis to her liver in 2007.
Sadly in 2012, Ify’s best friend was also diagnosed with breast cancer and died six years after.
Then, Ify thought she had to do something about it.
With the realisation that there were gaps in the African immigrant community’s access to health care, Ify decided to create her foundation to address this issue.
Ify feels that many African women, who get diagnosed with cancer don’t know where to go. Moreover, cancer in the African community is perceived with stigma, which makes treatment to be delayed and this often leads to death.
Through the African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association, Ify is increasing education, preventive measures and access to health care services.
Their programs and advocacy work help to ensure that African immigrants have access to early screening and are able to get treatment if and when they are diagnosed with breast cancer.