Bringing MammaCare to Nigeria – Balancing Research and Community Needs

stella-graduate-photoWhen education and opportunity intersect, young people often take their skills to big cities where access to modern technology and amenities makes life easier. Not Stella Oluwabukola. Pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Stella knew her calling was to bring her education back to the rural communities that needed her skills the most.

“As a research associate, I met women in the community asking me to teach them how to do Breast Self-Examination (BSE) and to help examine their breasts … I wasn’t confident I could perform this,” says Stella. Ms. Oluwabukola works with the Healthy Life for All Foundation, a not-for-profit NGO located at the University College Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria. Her work brings her into contact with women from all walks of life, and she wanted to make a greater impact on breast cancer detection with these women.

In addition, Stella Oluwabukola is working on her Ph.D. thesis in breast cancer epidemiology. Her dissertation project required teaching nurses to perform clinical breast examination. “I wanted to learn an effective and scientific way of performing clinical breast examination and detecting breast lumps in women,” she said.

During an exchange sponsored by the NIH D43 scholarship grant at the University of Chicago, Stella was certified as a MammaCare Specialist. “The MammaCare CBE Simulator training session really improved my lump detection skills,” says Oluwabukola, “After the training I feel confident that I can really differentiate a lump from normal breast tissue.” Her MammaCare Trainer, Pat Riedy, was impressed by Stella’s commitment to bring MammaCare both to the breast cancer research project at the University of Ibadan and to lay women in the community.

Recently returned to Nigeria, Stella will use her MammaCare Specialist certification to train nurses to perform MammaCare Clinical Breast Examination, as well as teaching women BSE skills. While the research is just beginning, she has wasted no time putting her skills to good use, “I have taught some colleagues at my workplace how to perform BSE using the MammaCare Method and they found it very interesting and helpful.”