AARP Eye Center
Many African immigrants diagnosed with breast cancer face barriers that make it difficult for them to access health care, which may lead to worse outcomes. I founded the African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association (AWCAA) to reduce the disparities in awareness, education, prevention and care. Since 2004, we have served more than 3,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families in the Washington, D.C., metro area and the international community through mission trips to various countries in Africa.
The problem I am trying to solve
The African immigrant population in America is one of the most negatively affected by existing health inequities in the U.S. Like many Blacks, they are underserved, underprivileged and underinsured. African immigrants also experience a language barrier and a strong cultural stigma about cancer that can delay diagnosis and treatment. Some don’t seek medical care because they are undocumented. By the time they come in for a screening, they’ve already discovered a lump, and then it may be too late for a positive outcome.
AWCAA stands in the gap to help African immigrants overcome these barriers and live to be survivors of breast cancer. Our cultural ambassadors conduct community outreach activities and ensure that up to 60 women get mammograms every year. We provide patient navigation services to women diagnosed with breast cancer as they move through the continuum of care. Our breast cancer support group serves as a haven for women to come together and to be connected to local resources for their needs, such as mastectomy bras and prostheses.
We touch an average of 2,500 lives through breast cancer screenings, patient navigation services, support groups and online counseling every year. Overall, we have reached more than 30,000 people through our awareness and educational outreach in the U.S. and on our mission trips in Africa.