• Printer Friendly Version
  • Decrease Text Size
  • Increase Text Size
  • PDF

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

A Heartfelt Embrace: Inspiring Hope in Ghana in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Posted By: Advancing Care

A small act of compassion by one Good Samaritan surgeon made an impact that reverberated far beyond the confines of her practice.

In 2015, Isabella Naana Asante, a traveling nurse at WMCHealth’s Good Samaritan Hospital, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The day after her diagnosis, she met Karen Karsif, MD, director of the hospital's Center for Breast Health. When Asante broke down in front of her, Dr. Karsif did one simple thing — she hugged her.

This gesture made a powerful impression on Asante. "It showed me I wasn't just a patient for her, I was a human being," Asante said.

Karen Karsif, MD, and Isabella Naana Asante while in Ghanda

Dr. Karsif said, "It just seems like a way of imparting healing and warmth. There's data that says the mental health — not just physical health — of a breast cancer patient is very important in her recovery.”

Karen Karsif, MD

Inspired by Dr. Karsif’s compassion and, in an effort to pay it forward, Asante founded the Embrace Society in Ghana, her native country, to support local women with breast cancer. "Embrace aims to replicate what Dr. Karsif and her exceptional team did for me,” said Asante. “And ensures that no woman succumbs to late diagnosis, insufficient resources or lack of support."

This summer, on the eighth anniversary of Asante’s double mastectomy and reconstruction, Dr. Karsif traveled with her to Ghana. The two met with hospital leaders and doctors, discussing ways to improve resources and support, and raising funds along the way. They hope to hire more support staff for patients, bolster breast cancer awareness and education efforts and establish a dedicated breast care center.

When asked why she decided to get involved, Dr. Karsif said, "Isabella is trying to build an infrastructure in a country that has none for breast care and I'd like to help her do that.” Dr. Karsif also shared that when she retires, she’d like to focus her time and efforts on improving breast care around the globe.

As close friends, Dr. Karsif and Asante now share the goal of providing better care for women, no matter where they live. Their bond, forged from one heartfelt embrace, is a testament to the universal language of compassion. "It's not the medicine alone that contributes to a positive outcome, it's the embrace, it's the soft things," Asante said.

Dr. Karsif, a surgeon with over 15 years of experience devoted entirely to treating breast disease, is the visionary behind Good Samaritan's Center for Breast Health. For more information or to book an appointment, call 845.368.5816 or 855.277.4482.