Today we are featuring Waithera Kabiru, digital marketing manager for Coca-ColaCentral, East and West Africa. Kabiru, who is based in Nairobi, Kenya, is a self-proclaimed "Digital Diva, Soccer Mum and Proud Breast Cancer Survivor." After successfully battling stage-three breast cancer in 2013, she founded the Second Chances Foundation, an organization that raises awareness and funds for cancer patients in Africa.
We caught up with Kabiru to hear about the unique way her foundation raises awareness of Breast Cancer in October through an initiative called #PinkFridayKE.
WHAT IS #PINKFRIDAYKE?
I wanted to execute a fun way to raise awareness about breast cancer in Kenya. This is because most breast cancer cases in Africa are diagnosed at a late stage due to lack of awareness or access to good healthcare. When you talk about breast cancer in our community, it’s usually a grim or dark story. Yet there can be positive or optimistic stories of cancer if detected early and successfully treated, like my case was.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, I realized a few things. First, I had never taken the initiative to do any cancer screening, and there was very little or almost no public information or awareness of cancer in Kenya. Secondly, cancer treatment is expensive globally and many Kenyans of all social economic backgrounds often lack good treatment due to limited finances. I was fortunate that I had access to world-class healthcare in Kenya, India, South Africa and the U.S., but this was only possible due to the support I received from The Coca-Cola Company and from family and friends who fundraised to ensure I got the best treatment. After getting a clean bill of health, I knew I had to give back to the community what I had learned and experienced and support those who are not as fortunate as I am.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE #PINKFRIDAYKE INITIATIVE?
In the first year that we activated #PinkFridayKE, we had overwhelming support from online influencers and media in Kenya who amplified the campaign. Coca-Colaassociates in the Kenya office wore pink on Friday, and we had lots of fun! We managed to raise funds to support a young Kenyan actress who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the early stage. The funds we raised enabled her to undergo surgery and radiation, and she is now fully cured!
HOW DO YOU STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN YOUR WORK FOR COKE AND YOUR FOUNDATION?
WHAT HAS BEEN A BIG HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CANCER AWARENESS INITIATIVES?
In August 2015, I was asked to share my patient success story to the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, Her Excellency Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta, who is the patron of the Forum of African First Ladies against Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer. At this event, which was graced by government officials and key stakeholders in the healthcare sector in Kenya, I was emphasized the need for public awareness on cancer and public private partnerships in healthcare service delivery.