Sierra Leone is an extremely poor country in western Africa where quality health care (or really much health care at all) is simply not available for most of the population. Breast cancer is a particularly tricky disease to try to diagnose and treat for residents of Sierra Leone, because there is not a single oncologist—and only one mammography machine—in the entire nation. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in Sierra Leone must travel to another country to receive costly treatment, which is highly unaffordable for most of them.
The people of Sierra Leone are also dangerously misinformed about breast cancer. Many of them believe the disease is contagious or even a curse, making it difficult for people suffering from the disease to get the support and help they need. Others don’t believe that cancer can exist in their part of the world at all; it is supposed to be something that only occurs in affluent areas, mostly in western cultures. None of these myths are true, but they’re negatively impacting people who are trying to get help for their breast cancer.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Sierra Leone. But now there’s an organization called the Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Foundation that’s looking to change all that. Located in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Thinking Pink is helping women get mammograms, mastectomies, biopsies, and counseling, and they’re also hosting workshops in an effort to dispel the myths surrounding breast cancer in the area.
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In an astounding and tragic turn of events, three of the four people who work at Thinking Pink in Sierra Leone got mammograms themselves and found out they had breast cancer. With the help of GreaterGood.org, however, they were able to get life-saving treatment and keep doing the amazing work they had set out to do, perhaps with even more empathy and motivation than before.
In the video below, Kadijah, one of the employees of Thinking Pink who survived breast cancer, shares a bit about her story and how wonderful the staff of Thinking Pink were throughout her time of need. We look forward to bringing you more success stories from Thinking Pink in the future.
Want to help? Click here to learn more about the plight of women in Sierra Leone and to contribute to the fight against breast cancer.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?