As the winner of the ‘International Humanitarian of the Year’ how did you feel on winning that category and tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
I was deeply touched to have won the Humanitarian of the Year award . Ive always been someone who does things quietly but efficiently and have never looked for personal recognition, so winning was a wonderful surprise and a testament to the hard work my team and I have done with cancer patients in Nigeria.
I lost my mother to Cancer ( acute myeloid leukemia ) in 2013 and six months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer . After recovering from a double mastectomy and reflecting on the amazing support my mother had during her end of life care and that I received in the UK from the cancer centre there , I decided to examine the journey of a cancer patient in Nigeria . I was Deeply troubled by what I saw. The lack of emotional and financial support, the lack of qualified personnel and facilities that can deal with the sheer volume of patients and scale of the problem prompted us to set up our Cancer Foundation the Bricon Foundation
We work with patients and their families battling with cancer, i.e. People who already have the disease. We do not do screening ourselves as we find there are more than enough other organizations doing free screening. The issues is after diagnosis, who covers the cost of your treatment. Many are left to fend for themselves. That is where we come in. We help fund treatment and we also provide free mastectomy products to women who can’t afford to buy them. We also have a very good support group and provide individual and family counseling which we feel is really important.
If you could change one thing about what you do to make it have a greater impact, what would it be? I would love to see Nigerian Cancer NGOs actually doing more collaborations to really make an impact as we can’t continue to work in silos if we want to really change the attitude to cancer and improve survivorship. However, I think it will take time for this to happen .
When life throws you challenges, how do you handle them?
Ive never been a quitter, and I’ve always believed that no matter how big a problem seems, if you break it down into smaller bits you can cope with and solve it. I always say if you want to sweep a room, no matter how big it is, if you start from one corner and work your way systematically you will finish sweeping it. If life “shows me pepper….” as we say in Nigeria……. Expect a great bowl of hot pepper soup 🙂 . In short, I do my best and leave the rest to God.
How would you encourage more women to live out their dreams?
I honestly believe that we are our biggest obstacles to progress. I believe success is a choice and life really is what you make it . No one can make you fail, you can only fail if you accept failure as an option. Hard work is key to success. I believe if you live a good life, work hard and trust God , there is nothing you cannot achieve. With God nothing is impossible.
Who would you say has been your inspiration and why?
My Mother has been my greatest inspiration. She had “terminal cancer ” four times and defied all odds to survive 33 years after her last “terminal diagnosis” before she finally passed away in 2013 . She never complained and never gave up. She had an amazing sense of humor and always said the reason she was alive was that she “had so many medical conditions that none of them could decide which one would finish her off”. She always put others first and worked with communities of disadvantaged people throughout her adult life. She was the kindest person I have ever known, giving of herself and her substance till the day she died. She led by example and made me who I am today.
What is the one thing you love most about Africa?
We are a resilient people. We just get on with life. No matter how bad things get, we still find a way to keep going and be happy.
Do you have website? Are you on Social Media?
We are on twitter @thebriconfoundatn , Facebook , instagram and our website is :www.thebriconfoundation.org.ng