Khadijat Fatai-Banwo is much more than a breast cancer survivor; to many she is seen as a breast cancer hero. Khadijat was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer in 2010, at age 41. Today, as a 10-year cancer survivor, she is a strong supporter and a shoulder to lean on for other women diagnosed with cancer. She is also one of the leading voices in advocating for cancer care to become a national health priority in Nigeria.
CONQUER: the patient voice and the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) awarded Khadijat the 2020 Hero of Hope™ Patient Award at this year’s 11th Annual AONN+ Virtual Conference. The AONN+ Awards are given annually and honor individuals and organizations for excellence in the field of oncology navigation in a variety of categories that touch all aspects of the care spectrum. This year’s award was presented virtually. The Hero of Hope™ Patient Award is selected by readers of CONQUER: the patient voice.
Khadijat is a loving mother of 3 and sadly lost her husband just 7 days after undergoing surgery for a radical single mastectomy. Khadijat’s cancer diagnosis changed her entire life, especially as she was faced with many treatment challenges in Nigeria, where access to healthcare is limited.
In 2013, Khadijat and her team started Project PINK BLUE (PPB), an initiative that is focused on educating the community on breast, cervical, womb, and other gynecologic cancers. PPB provides free cancer screenings, navigation for patients with cancer, and training for nurses, and raises funds to support indigent patients with cancer in their communities. Khadijat has spearheaded fundraising activities for numerous patients with cancer in her community. Most recently, she and her team raised funds for 3 indigent patients with cancer.
Khadijat was instrumental in the development of the first Breast Cancer Navigation and Palliative Program at PPB, and she helped to secure a grant from the Union for International Cancer Control. She works as the Breast Navigator at PPB, her second career after working for the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN). Her experience at NEPWHAN and her cancer diagnosis compelled Khadijat to care for patients with cancer, caregivers, loved ones, and their families. Khadijat is also a certified patient navigator at George Washington Cancer Center in Washington, DC, and has co-authored several cancer-related abstracts and research articles.
As a patient navigator, Khadijat provides resources for her patients regarding cancer prevention and screening, and ensures smooth transitions through cancer diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life care.
Khadijat is also the Project Lead at Project PINK BLUE-Health & Psychological Trust Centre, a cancer nonprofit organization that has reached more than 25 million people, trained 185 doctors and nurses, has 950 volunteers, and has implemented more than 50 life-saving projects in rural communities.
In addition to her dedication to cancer care, Khadijat has made immense contributions in policies on gender issues, and she has led various gender-based projects. Her interests span across gender inequality, gender disparities in healthcare access, and other timely cultural issues. Khadijat is extremely passionate about work in development, in her community, and in advocacy.
Khadijat encompasses the spirit of the Hero of Hope™ Patient Award, spending all her time helping others and making improvements in cancer care. She wants to raise awareness to allow for earlier cancer diagnoses and prompt medical attention to increase survival rates, reduce incidence rates, and improve patients’ quality of life. Khadijat wants other women to become survivors and to take charge of their lives while dealing with breast cancer, as she was able to do. The Hero of Hope Patient Award recognizes Khadijat Fatai-Banwo for her outstanding contributions to the cancer community as an individual whose life is touched by cancer.
To learn more about the AONN+ Awards, please visit https://aonnonline.org/awards.