WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Each woman, no matter what part of the world she is from, is unique. Language barriers, cultural differences and physical characteristics separate them, but the risk of breast cancer unites them.
Staffers at the Embassy of Ghana in Northwest DC know this and are actively involved in this year's Komen Global Race For The Cure. Their team wants to make an impact-and defend their title while they're at it.
The group originally called itself the Ghana Queens because it hoped to reign as race champions. Last year they lived up to their name and won the honor of top international fundraiser.
The team hopes this year will be the same. Co-captain Araba Pobee wants a repeat of 2009 when the Ghana Queens captured the title from the Embassy of Italy.
This year it's the Embassy of Bahrain that's giving them trouble, according to Effie Bentsi-Adoteye, Ghana Queen co-captain, but the race isn't just about winning. It's about beating breast cancer.
Susan G. Komen For The Cure has helped the West African country of Ghana out immensely. "Overall in Africa we are very concerned about breast cancer and women's cancers," Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen For The Cure, said. "The continent has been consumed with communicable disease and other very challenging issues."
While breast cancer affects fewer women in Africa, it hits earlier and harder. In Ghana only 25 percent of cancers are detected in an early stage. The rest of cancers-75 percent-are detected in a late stage. Many of those women have a highly aggressive strain called triple negative.
Women tend not to seek breast cancer help because of limited resources and the social stigma attached to the disease. "Even within the cities (they don't seek help) because of stigmatization," Bentsi-Adoteye said. "Once people are diagnosed with they disease, they wouldn't even want their own relations to know that this is an issue they have."
Komen has invested a quarter million dollars and founded a hospital to help the Ghana Breast Cancer Alliance. This is its largest international grant and includes an innovative program Brinker calls a course for the cure. "Our goal there is to educate, outreach, empower women there to do their own organizations and volunteer efforts," she said.
Soon more women in Ghana will be making an impact-not just the Ghana Queens. "With Susan Komen taking the lead in trying to find a cure for the disease, we can all chip in so we don't have to wait until we are inflicted," Bentsi-Adoteye said. "Once a cure is found, everybody in the world is going to benefit from it."