Fatima Karriem was born and raised in a large Cape Malay family in South Africa – she is the 7th of nine children. After living through the volatile socio-political changes she immigrated to Ohio, USA in 1999 with her husband, Junaid, and son, Zaid.
During a routine medical check-up at the Cleveland Clinic in 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which began a phenomenal spiritual and physical healing journey that required that she put herself at the top of her “to do list”. With a loving family, supportive friends and excellent clinical team by her side she knew that this did not have to be a negative, terror-inducing experience.
Fatima’s treatment plan included a 10 hour radical modified mastectomy with a latissimus dorsi breast reconstruction, 6 months of chemotherapy as well as radiation therapy. Her faith gave her strength and a sense of calm throughout her treatment.
Through it all, many wonderful things have happened…Fatima became a breast cancer advocate and also initiated project Bras for Africa! in October 2006 to increase breast cancer awareness and the importance of early detection among underprivileged women in Africa and beyond. With the support of her family, she collects new bras, packages it with breast self-care messages and illustrated cards to accommodate the women who are not able to read. The bras are then distributed to cancer centers, women’s shelters and community health organizations across the world. Through this initiative, hundreds of new bras and cancer-awareness literature have been distributed to the Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation in Nigeria; Groote Schuur Hospital, Reach for Recovery and The Haven Shelter in South Africa; Mastectomies Association in India and Breast Cancer Foundation in Egypt.