Group Enables Travel for Black Women With Breast Cancer

 Group Enables Travel for Black Women With Breast Cancer


Fight Through Flights wants black women navigating breast cancer to feel empowered by traveling.

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When Alicia Tambe and Esther Tambe witnessed their sister Maria’s battle with breast cancer, they were inspired by how her diagnosis never stopped her from traveling the world. While waiting for his first test results, he boarded a plane to destinations like Trinidad for Carnival, and his love of seeing new places carried him into his last days.

After Mary’s death, Esther and Alicia launched the nonprofit Fighting Through Flights by 2020 to provide health and travel experiences for black women with breast cancer — a demographic that is more likely to die from the disease than any other distinct group in United States due to biological and socioeconomic factors.

Combining expertise from their professions — Esther is a registered nurse and Alicia is an attorney who runs a travel group — Fight Through Flights also provides mental health and physical therapy resources to involved in the program. They received donations from friends, family, and colleagues, as well as breast cancer survivors and those who have lost loved ones to the disease.

the Black Travel Alliance donated $ 5,000 to help fund the recent Fight Through Flights leadership retreat in Belize that planned ways to support Black women with breast cancer. The retreat led to four inaugural programs this year, and the second phase of these programs will be launched then in 2022. experiences includes road trips, staycations, and Room to Breathe trips that offer a free night in a hotel room to relax and get away from life’s distractions.

Of those recently diagnosed, Alicia Tambe says, “There’s a community out there waiting to welcome you. There’s a strong group of Black women’s organizations already putting in the work. “We just want to complete these efforts. There is a real brotherhood, and you are not alone.”

Tambe recently chatted with AFAR about the vision and the ongoing work on Fight Through Flights.

Alicia and Esther Tambe launched a nonprofit Fight Through Flights after their sister Maria, lost her battle with breast cancer.

In what ways have you found that travel can help those facing a diagnosis of breast cancer?

Traveling can serve as an opportunity to heal oneself and ward off trauma. You will never know how heavy a burden is until you get rid of it, even for a few hours. We are told that our experiences provide opportunities for women to recharge and enjoy themselves, without guilt.

You may have supportive family and friends but sometimes you need to get away, or sometimes you need to be with the same people in different situations, even if they are your caregivers, spouse, friends, or children. You have to remember life before cancer and remember you. Sometimes you need to celebrate your Cancerversary or the fact that you were saved another day. And as Black women, we have always held the role of caregiver and non-caregiver ourselves.

What do you consider when planning travel experiences?

Everything is different. You can’t create a program that thinks every Black woman with breast cancer needs the same thing. You and I are different. We have different interests and different responsibilities and different experiences, and that needs to be taken into account. That’s why we make sure our programs are flexible. For example, with our Room to Breathe program, you can use a free hotel stay anywhere in the United States. Some women need it to be close to family, some want to spend time with their children, and some women just want a night alone. We want every woman to leave with power, whether it’s learning how to cook through a cooking course, doing a personal photoshoot, getting a change, or trying out a reiki experience.

Fight Through Flights staged a recent retreat in leadership in Belize. What are some of the biggest accomplishments?

We had five women in attendance and it was an amazing experience. All women are breast cancer survivors but are also leaders in the Black breast cancer community. We had women from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, For the Breast of Us, the Survivor’s Nest, and one who attended a triple board certified infectious disease specialist.

It’s all about resting and recharging while working out. Each of these women is serving a community, and if they can’t rest and recharge, then serving the community in the most effective way won’t happen. The main goal of the retreat is for these women to come together and collaborate on a program or initiative that they can afford while fulfilling the mission of the FTF. They will work next year to complete the project, from the action plan to fundraising to implementation. I won’t announce it yet, but the project will affect a lot of women and will definitely have a travel component. We have a beautiful mix of work and play that includes massages, group yoga, meditation, and day trips like boat rides, swimming with sharks, and an island trip. That was a nice balance.

What do you want our readers to know about the differences faced by black women with a diagnosis of breast cancer?

If statistics show that Black Women are over 40 percent [more] more likely to die than any race or ethnic group from breast cancer, then we need to have a stronger focus on health equity across the board. Many organizations focus on research, but statistics alone cause trauma and fear. We need more programs to help more Black women cope during and after treatment. We need to know that there are resources for survivorship. We need to know that there are experiences that can be given beyond treatment. You have to have the right mind and spirit for your body to fight. That’s what we want to offer.

How do you want Fight Through Flights to grow in the coming years?

We want our leadership retreats to go global and allow for the exchange of ideas between Black women across the African and Caribbean diaspora. This is not just an African-American issue and it is important to understand how breast cancer affects Black women around the world. We want to develop a strong network of Black women who can explore the world, even if it’s their neighboring state.

>> Next: What Traveling to Every Country in the World Taught Me About Race



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