Miriam Sevy was a force of nature. That is how Dr. Steve Kussick, president of the board for the all-volunteer, Seattle-based Burkitt’s Lymphoma Fund for Africa, remembers the nonprofit’s founder.
A financial consultant with a passion for community service, Sevy started BLFA after a trip to western Kenya in 2009 arranged by the global health organization PATH. She had gone to learn about malaria prevention, but while there, she encountered a hospital ward of children with rapidly growing, painful tumors in their jaws or abdomens. The tumors were caused by Burkitt lymphoma, the leading cause of pediatric cancer deaths in equatorial Africa. Yet this form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is highly curable if treated in time with common chemotherapy — treatment that is out of reach for many in this poor and largely rural region.