Femi Ajayi's Outlook

A talented young lady of African descent, from Nigeria, Aminat Gbaja, is carrying the Breast Cancer Awareness crusade to the corridors of people of African descents, most especially African families that reside in the State of Georgia.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dr. Femi Ajayi



talented young lady of African descent, from Nigeria, Aminat Gbaja, is carrying the Breast Cancer Awareness crusade to the corridors of people of African descents, most especially African families that reside in the State of Georgia. She started her BCA crusade in 2005 in Atlanta, Georgia, under her non-profit Organization called Nattie PinkFest. Founder of "Nattie's", Aminat Gbaja, in addition to her turnkey events manager, is an Advanced Toastmaster Bronze recipient, bringing awareness to a course she is passionate about, helping women remain Breast Healthy.

Aminat Gbaja

Unfortunately, the cancer burden is unequal and it disproportionately affects African American women (which includes all women of African descent), who on average develop cancer 10 years earlier than white women.

Following its 2005 successful debut of Atlanta NaijahFest, in fostering Breast Cancer Awareness among Women of African descents especially the Africans that reside in the State of Georgia, Nattie's incorporates La Femme Africaine Foundation focusing on Breast cancer awareness. La Femme Africaine Foundation whose goal is to raise awareness on socio economic plagues affecting African women, including but not limited to Breast Cancer, is fully incorporated in the State of Georgia, with IRS 501(c)3 status. The theme for the La Femme Africaine PinkFest is "Think Pink, Dream Big".

La Femme Africaine Foundation Mission is to "Empower women via educational and awareness, building initiatives, largely targeting women of African descent".

While its Vision is to

"Develop and empower African women in the Diaspora, with the foresight of enabling them to better represent and rebuild Africa's global image - and to ultimately apply their experiences to the development of our women in Africa. We seek to impact lives of individuals in our community via our global awareness programs and services, leveraging the rich African culture and heritage to coordinate and sponsor value added events that foster social and global awareness."

According to Aminat, the Founder of the Foundation,

"La Femme Africaine is a non-profit organization based in Georgia, incorporated in June 2006. The Foundation is committed to empowering underprivileged and less informed women (predominantly of African descent), on various issues that affect womanhood via awareness programs. We are located in Norcross, Georgia covering Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb counties, with a high immigrant population.

Our primary focus is fostering Breast Cancer Awareness and providing resources for care. Breast Cancer is the 2nd leading cancer incidence in the US, with the 3rd mortality rate of all cancers, largely due to the progress made in Breast Cancer research and development. In 2006, nationwide, there are over 250,000 women under 40 living with Breast Cancer, and over 11,500 young women will be diagnosed in the next year. 36,650 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in Georgia, in 2006, of which 5,920 will be Breast Cancer cases, and 1,140 of the afflicted are projected to die of this disease. In other words, we stand to lose 1,140 of our grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and friends in the state of Georgia.

By putting women at the forefront of its strategy, and with the effective leverage of its enlightening programs, services and collaborative efforts, it aim to help eradicate existing stereotypes. This will enhance awareness of socio-economic ills that stand in the way of our development and sustenance, and provide avenues to conquer these barriers to uplift our women."

According to American Cancer Society, research has shown that many factors are responsible for the disparity among cancer patients. Such disparities include Biological differences in tumor characteristics of white and African American women, with the latter having more aggressive tumors; Socioeconomic factors including lack of access to healthcare, lack of insurance and lower income; Psychosocial and cultural variables combined with socioeconomic status.

La Femme Africaine believes that raising awareness may be a first step in reversing this trend. Given the above information, the underprivileged immigrant woman is often at a further disadvantage as a result of language and literary barriers. La Femme Africaine programs provide them the only opportunity they may ever have to access much needed education and healthcare that could mean the difference between life and death.

The PinkFest marks the launch of La Femme Africaine (The African Woman) to celebrate African women in honor of the National Breast Cancer Awareness month. The Month of October each year has been designated as the Breast Cancer Month. During the month several programs are put together by various Organizations and individuals, both at the community, local and International level. One of the focuses is the Breast Cancer Awareness to women of ages 40 and above. It is also an education month to women on Breast Cancer talking about breast examination or testing, early detection, and treatment for Breast Cancer.

Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years. Therefore after age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.

Beginning in their 20s, women should be told about the benefits and limitations Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and report any new breast change to a health professional as soon as they are found. Finding a breast change does not mean there is a cancer. Women can notice changes by being aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and by feeling their breasts for changes (breast awareness) or by choosing to use a step-by-step approach and using a specific schedule to examine her breasts.

The goal of screening exams, such as mammograms, for early breast cancer detection is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms. Finding a breast cancer as early as possible improves the likelihood that treatment will be successful. Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer save many thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.

Breast cancers that are detected because they can be felt tend to be larger and are more likely to have spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening examinations are more likely to be small and still confined to the breast.

La Femme Africaine 2006 activities feature the PinkFest cultural celebration filled with food, music and dance, as well as shared messages to promote Breast Cancer Awareness and real life Breast Cancer survivor stories; Recognition, acknowledging a woman in the community who has contributed to preventive education, and/or to alleviating the pain and suffering associated with the Breast Cancer plague; Dedications, celebrate Breast Cancer survivors, and honor the memory of our loved ones; Savor Africa Project, original cookbook with authentic recipes from the warm kitchens of La Femme Africaine Board of Directors, volunteers, sponsors and friends within the African community; La Femme African theme merchandise sale of memorabilia to commemorate the launch of La Femme Africaine and celebrate our women, long after the ceremony is over. A Fashion Parade, display of exotic African origin prints, in up to the moment fashion styles, shown off by our diverse, fashion forward audience; 100% of proceeds goes to La Femme Africaine.

Other activities include a Raffle Draw, featuring donations from La Femme African generous sponsors, including authentic African works of Art, gift certificates, services, and other merchandise; and Door busters include trinket items and literature to honor National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Dr. Jayanthi Srinivasiah, MD (Dr. Jay) is expected to make a presentation at the event. Dr. Jay is a Georgia Cancer Specialist, a Board Certified Oncology and Hematology, with specialist on Lymphoma, blood disorders, clinical research, breast cancer, and genetics. Dr. Jay is a member of the Medical Association of Georgia, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the DeKalb County Medical Society.

Expected also is Cheryl Brown, the Founder, CEO, LIVED2TELL Cancer Support Outreach, Inc. Georgia. Cheryl Brown is a three-time cancer survivor. She has lived to tell of one bout after another during her amazing life of overcoming Breast Cancer. The 1987 Atlanta transplant from Ohio has been diagnosed every 7 years subsequently at the ages of 24, 31 and 38. Cheryl is undergoing numerous testing to ascertain the possible 4th recurrence in May, 2006, which would have been another 7 years but through her faith and holding onto God's promises (Psalms 118:17) "You shall not die but LIVE to declare the work of the Lord", the surgeon was unable to locate a suspicious image that was previously shown on a recent mammogram; and after biopsy, the suspicious image was benign.

Comments from the 2005 events indicated the importance of La Femme Africaine Breast Cancer Awareness program to the community. Some of the comments were: "I loved the setting of the place and the works - great job to welcome my husband and I to the show. I think that was a good one and I love that food my husband tried to teach me, I love the red rice and the beans thing (Moi Moi)" "The vendors were excellent, I particularly loved Bushman #1" "The Fashion Show stood out! The girls were phenomenal... "Add more life and limit speakers"

Within a very short time, La Femme Africaine has carried its Breast Cancer Awareness crusade across its communities and even across USA borders to Nigeria, with support from the Nigerian Consulate Atlanta, Georgia and the Lagos State Ministry of Women's Affairs. La Femme Africaine has organized and participated in various activities to foster Breast Cancer Awareness, and vowed to continue doing so.

La Femme Africaine has participated in the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life"; Susan G. Komen Race for The Cure - 5K Run/Walk to raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness, Research and Development; Nattie's The Inaugural Atlanta NaijahFest - A West African Celebration; American Cancer Society: Mission Delivery Leadership Institute; Nattie's Quest: Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure; American Cancer Society "Volunteer Leadership Summit"; La Femme Africaine's PinkFest; The La Femme Africaine "Think Pink" initiative. La Femme Africaine has served and identified help in needed areas within Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb counties (areas with high immigrant population), to spread breast cancer awareness, and provide education and healthcare resources.

Some of La Femme Africaine regular projects include, Seminars on Public Health and Policies, Advocacy, Healthy Lifestyle Choices, Cultural Etiquettes, Public Speaking and Leadership Development; Partnerships and collaboration with organizations; Cultural Fests to honor our rich heritage; and La Femme Africaine Empowerment Center, a safe cultural haven with up-to-date resources to empower and celebrate African women and children.

La Femme Africaine rapid success stories were made possible through the overwhelming community support by African women living Abroad and at home. At its infancy, La Femme Africaine set out to raise $5,000 to support 2006 Breast Cancer Awareness program. La Femme Africaine is enjoining everyone to support its efforts on the Breast Cancer Awareness crusade. No amount of assistance is too little. The foundation will only flourish with the continued support of everyone who is able to help as no help is too small or too big.

La Femme Africaine is inviting everyone, especially women, to attend series of programs lined up for this year's Breast Cancer Awareness day, October 28, 2006, Atlanta. It is going to be a memorable African celebration to perpetuate the Breast Cancer Awareness message.

The Foundation cannot do it without everyone's support. Joining La Femme Africaine will make a difference in the race in eradicating breast cancer as a life threatening disease. For more details, log on to www.natties.net/LFA, or e-mail at [email protected]