Komen Nebraska presents “My Journey” – real stories about Nebraskans working together to defeat breast cancer.
Always Positive, Always Strong
Poovi Zekpa-Akolly of Omaha first learned that she had breast cancer in May 2013.
“I went for my yearly mammogram,” she says. “It was breast cancer, Stage 3 — a tumor nine centimeters large.”
Understandably, the diagnosis changed Poovi’s family circumstances, especially the outlook of her children.
“I didn’t explain to my youngest what was going on. But the two oldest knew it was cancer, and they worried,” says Poovi, who has three girls, Maryse (age 17), Christiane (12) and Anna-Gabriella (7). They would ask, ‘What’s going to happen, Mommy?’ I tried to make them happy, but it was hard. I wasn’t feeling good.”
The Visiting Nurse Association
Through a community grant, Susan G. Komen® Nebraska helps fund the Breast Cancer Assistance Program with the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). The program provides financial assistance and supportive services to individuals undergoing breast cancer treatment. Poovi received financial help with some of her hospital bills, oncology bills and mortgage payments.
“I couldn’t go to work,” Poovi says. “All the expenses were on my husband, so the assistance helped a lot.”
The financial impact of Poovi’s breast cancer treatment was daunting. “We used to be a family without any debt,” says Poovi, who immigrated to the U.S. more than a decade ago from Togo, West Africa. “The bills stacked up. The payments kept growing.”
Being apart from her family in Africa also proved difficult.
“Other than my husband’s niece who lives here, we didn’t have anyone to turn to,” Poovi says. “But, we had the Midwest Cancer Center, the VNA and Komen Nebraska, who are like family now.”
Prayer and gospel music
Poovi began undergoing chemotherapy last July. She had a bilateral mastectomy and subsequent reconstructive surgery. At press time, Poovi was about to begin radiation treatments.
“I have hope that I’m going to come through with the help of God,” Poovi says. “I pray and I listen to gospel music, especially gospel from back home.”
Poovi smiles. For someone who has gone through so much, Poovi is amazingly optimistic.
“She is always positive,” says Godfrey, her husband. “She is always strong.”■