Fighting Breast Cancer in Nigeria is a 365-day a year job
Breast Cancer Awareness Run in Lagos, Nigeria
Run For a Cure Africa supporters at the Breast Cancer Awareness Run in Lagos, Nigeria
To Win the fight against breast cancer in Africa by erasing societal stigmas; providing affordable breast cancer screenings, and creating more access to quality breast care.
We aim to turn the current 90% breast cancer mortality rate in Africa into the 99% survival rate.
Run For a Cure Africa is a small yet powerful nonprofit organization set up with the aim of eradicating Breast Cancer in Africa.
We are a group of people directly or indirectly affected by breast cancer who are dedicated to lessening the impact of this disease on the women of our community.
Why We Run
I will never forget the summer of 2007. I was pregnant with my first child and my older sister was planning her wedding. However, our preoccupation with our major life changes came to a halt when in June 2007; my mother came to my sister and I to tell us she had found a lump in her breast. We were immediately paralyzed with fear because earlier that month, two of our aunts had just been diagnosed with cancer as well: one aunt with breast cancer and the other aunt with colon cancer. We were perplexed, why now? Why all three of them? Even though we were confused and scared, we tried to remain optimistic, brush it off like my mom’s case would be different, but quietly, we knew it was breast cancer. My older sister, the ‘Doer’ in the family, wasted no time and made an appointment for my mom to be screened. In the end, she was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer. I remember walking into the waiting room with my mother on the day she was diagnosed. She, always such a pillar of strength for us, looked small and afraid because she knew what the doctor was going to say. When they did give us the news, she broke down at the doctor’s office and then immediately shifted her anger to my sister and me. She was mad that we made her aware of the cancer. She wanted to, in her words, “Just not wake up one day.” The doctor corrected her and said, “If you are going to have any cancer, this is the one to have. We found it early and we can treat it.” Six weeks of chemotherapy and then radiation, was a struggle, but visually she emerged from her treatment unscathed.
It was not until December of 2008 that I was able to understand the magnitude of what happened to my family and how truly fortunate we were. My aunt, who had been diagnosed with colon cancer in the same month my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, had taken a turn for the worse. Her cancer had spread and after trying to treat it for the past year, the doctor told her son that he should take his mother home so she could spend her last Christmas among family. My aunt passed away on January 18, 2009. I started to think, what if the doctors had told my brothers and sisters and me to take my mother home so she could spend her last Christmas at home? I shuddered at the thought and quickly erased it from my mind. I then decided that when I returned to the States I was going to write a check to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to show how truly grateful I was, because they helped with my mom’s treatment, but a voice inside me said, “It is not always about writing a check, sometimes you have to get your hands a little dirty”. I then decided that I would organize a Run, much like the Race for the Cure put on by SGK, in Lagos, Nigeria. I decided, in my mind that I would give the proceeds from the Run to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but that same voice said to me, “How are you going to raise money in Nigeria for the U.S. , when there are so many people that desperately need help right here”. It was then that I decided to start a breast cancer awareness run in 2009 in Lagos, Nigeria. This awareness run has grown into Run For a Cure Africa. Each year we had with our mother was a blessing. In the end, her cancer came back and metastasized to the brain. She fought long and hard and went home to rest on January 8, 2016. But she lives on in this organization.
Since its inception, Run For a Cure Africa has moved into two other African countries, Ghana and Cameroon, purchased mammogram machines for deserving hospitals, provided the opportunity for free screenings for hundreds of women, increased the awareness of breast cancer amongst West Africans, had the privilege of providing funds for breast cancer treatment, and tripled the number of their participants, sponsors, and money raised.
I wish I could take sole credit for the success and growth of this program but I simply cannot. Breast cancer is a disease that affects and continues to affect so many people. I have been blessed with meeting so many intelligent and talented individuals that realize this and their hard work and determination continues to push us forward. I just count myself privileged that I get the opportunity to be a part of something so great.
But together we can do so much more. Will you join us?
Kelly Alston Hobbs arrived in Lagos with her expatriate husband in March of 2011. Prior to moving to Lagos, she worked with several Fortune 500 companies on process improvement and financial system integration initiatives. Most recently, Kelly has started her own digital and social media company, Kinexion Media. She is a proud graduate of North Carolina A&T State University.
Kelly served on the first annual Big Hat Mother’s Day Brunch. While new to the area and the board, Kelly brings fresh ideas and is eager to support Run For a Cure Africa’s mission to turn the mortality rate into the survival rate.more
Virginie Kontchou is originally from Cameroon. She is a teacher of French, she holds a Bachelor’s in Language Arts, a Master’s in Business Administration, and she is certified in Early Childhood Education. Virginie Kontchou has served on the Run For a Cure planning committee since its inception. Having lost her father to cancer, she wants to alleviate the pain one feels from losing a loved one to this disease. She advocates unwaveringly through her spouses company and other corporations, pushing for sponsorship and participation in large numbers and organizing groups to join the fight against breast cancer. She is married with three children.more
Ebele Mbanugo, outside of her diligent work towards breast cancer education and awareness for the less privileged, has been in education for over 12 years. As an educator (her first passion) she has worked in both special and general education. With a mind-set for service, Ebele Mbanugo has worked with children with learning and emotional disabilities through the LOVAAS Institute for Autism and the national and community service corporation, Americorps. She is a proud member of the community service sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. She holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Southern Methodist University. She also has a Master’s in Educational Administration and is completing her Doctorate in Education.more
Deborah lost both her maternal grandmother and grandaunt to breast cancer so this cause is very personal to her. When she moved to Lagos in 2009 she was happy to find Run for a Cure and has been a volunteer ever since. By profession, Deborah is a teacher and a writer. She produces entertainment segments and fashion shows for events such as the annual Run For a Cure Africa Run and Big Hat Brunch for RFCA Nigeria. Deborah, a former NPR radio producer, uses her extensive contacts to bolster RFCA media and public relations efforts. She hails from the great state of Connecticut but also calls Mississippi and Washington, DC home.more
Oyewale studied at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho as an Applied Mathematician but has in the last twelve years worked as a filmmaker. Working briefly right after university at the Nigeria Television Authority NTA2 Channel 5 as a Reporter and Producer on the breakfast Program DAYBREAK NIGERIA. Under the supervision of Yinka Craig, Oyewale went on to head a media startup: TWO REEL STUDIOS Ltd in 2007. With core competencies in media content provision for public and private broadcast purposes, 2Reel Studios caters to the documentary needs of private individuals and corporate organizations. In addition, it has also carved a niche for itself amongst several not-for-profit organizations desiring to tell the positive stories of their social impact towards creating awareness or raising funds to sustain the work.
Oyewale Oyewole has received trainings in TV & Documentary Film production both locally at the Independent Television Practitioners Association of Nigeria (ITPAN) Training school, Lagos, the School of Media & Communication of...more
has worked in academia and is focused on women’s health and women’s health research. Her interest in cancer dates back to her graduate work in cancer mortality and the differential on race, gender and socioeconomic status. During that time she also worked with the Witness Project® Madison. Her experience includes grant writing, community outreach, program implementation, evaluation, data analysis and overall program administration. She also has a background in Public Health, with a focus on Epidemiology. She hopes to be able to use all of her experience thus far in partnership with Run for a Cure Africa.more