Lisa Newman’s 16-hour journey to Ghana from her Michigan hospital is only a step in the surgeon’s mission to understand the nature of difficult-to-treat triple negative breast cancer. Newman aims to determine whether African-American women, who are disproportionately affected by this particularly aggressive form of cancer, are biologically predisposed to triple negative, which accounts for 15 percent of all breast cancer in the United States.

Lisa Newman is making history … by fighting breast cancer on two continents. Through her travels to Africa, where Newman works closely with local doctors to collect information and tissue samples, the doctor has discovered that 60 percent of Ghanaian women who have breast cancer have triple negative. Back in Michigan, Newman compares American samples with Ghanaian ones, hoping to find a DNA link between the two. If she does, she believes this will make new treatments possible.

As she researches, she also serves as cultural, medical ambassador between the two countries. Newman brings medical students and trainees with her to the African nation so they can witness the health care system in a medically underserved region. In turn, Ghanaian colleagues visit the University of Michigan to learn about westernized practices.

What’s next for Lisa?

While she works to increase treatment options for triple negative breast cancer, Newman also provides insight to the Sisters Network, a national organization for African-American women who have survived breast cancer. As chief national medical advisor, Newman supports the network’s 3,000 members in 43 cities, and their cause — to stop the silence in the black community about breast cancer.

In her own words …

“”It’s heartbreaking that we see many advanced stage of cancers in the women of Ghana, but it’s a tremendous opportunity to make a difference and to be able to share what we have in the United States with the women here, with our family, our extended family,”” Newman told CNN in 2009.

A favorite quote …

“”Of all the forms of injustice, inequality in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

A little-known fact …

Among women who have breast cancer, the disease is twice as likely to be fatal for a black woman than a white woman, according to a 2009 study from the Office of Minority Health Resource Center.

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