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Breast Cancer Survivor Urges Women to Get Annual Mammograms

Albany, GA | October 30, 2023 – Akiba Riley believes divine intervention led to her breast cancer diagnosis and successful treatment.  She just doesn’t think there’s any other way to explain how she came to learn about her cancer and how happy and healthy she is now.  “I’m so thankful that God put Dr. Abiodun and Dr. Munireddy and Phoebe in my path,” Akiba said.

Akiba is an Albany native, born at Phoebe.  She still has family here, but both her parents have passed away, and she moved to McDonough just south of Atlanta six years ago.  Her cancer journey began a little more than a year ago in a moment of desperation.

“I had a desire to get a breast reduction.  They were just too big for me, and I had back problems and other issues,” Akiba said.  “I went to one doctor to see about surgery, and it didn’t work out.  I had gotten really depressed about it.”

One day, she shared her frustrations on social media and received private messages from three women who had undergone breast reductions.  Two of them mentioned the great experiences they had in Albany.  Akiba also ended up talking to several acquaintances in Atlanta – as well as a stranger who struck up a conversation with her in a store – who also mentioned an exceptional doctor in Albany.  It took a while for her to put the pieces together, but Akiba eventually realized every one of those women was speaking about Phoebe Plastic Surgeon Dr. Mayowa Abiodun.

Akiba said she would never have considered looking for a surgeon in Albany, but “everyone put her in my vision,” so she ended up making an appointment to see Dr. Abiodun who ordered a mammogram before moving forward with the breast reduction surgery.

According to Akiba, when the mammogram showed a mass, Dr. Abiodun told her, “I know you’re really worried about it, but don’t worry because we’re going to take care of it.”  The day her cancer diagnosis was confirmed, Akiba said, “they (Dr. Abiodun and her staff) were just like my family.  I don’t have my mom anymore.  I was by myself, and they came in and consoled me.”

Dr. Abiodun contacted Surgical Oncologist Dr. Sanjay Munireddy, a colleague at the Phoebe Cancer Center with whom she often works closely to coordinate patient care.  They worked together so Akiba only had to undergo one surgery.  Dr. Munireddy removed her cancerous tumor, then Dr. Abiodun completed her breast reduction.

“The doctors worked hand in hand to take care of me,” Akiba said.  “I get emotional when I talk about it because I’ve never seen people who so genuinely cared.”

Dr. Munireddy developed a cancer treatment plan for Akiba that included chemotherapy and radiation.  He suggested it may be more convenient and easier for her to have that care closer to home, and he called an oncologist in Atlanta to help set up appointments for her to get those treatments there.

Only three months elapsed between Akiba’s first appointment with Dr. Abiodun and the beginning of her post-surgery cancer treatments.  She says everyone at Phoebe made sure she got great care, and everyone treated her with respect and compassion.

“Everything was so smooth.  I couldn’t have picked a better place.  It was really a great experience.  Any questions, no matter when I had them, there was always somebody there to answer them.  There wasn’t a mountain that they couldn’t move,” she said.

Akiba believes, if she hadn’t been able to get that initial appointment with Dr. Abiodun to discuss a breast reduction, her cancer would have been in a much more advanced stage when it was discovered.  “I would’ve never known.  I don’t think I would’ve gotten a mammogram that year if Dr. Abiodun hadn’t sent me to get one,” she said.

It had been two years since Akiba’s last mammogram.  She insists she won’t miss another one, and that’s a message she wants other women to hear.  “It’s something I feel like I owe other women, to know my story and know how important it is to stay on top of our health.”

Recently, Akiba’s daughter and some friends threw her a surprise breast cancer awareness party.  Everyone wore pink and there were signs that included important facts about breast cancer.  When she looks at pictures of herself from that party, Akiba says she sees a confident woman who has been completely transformed over the last year.

“I was so insecure back then, but I don’t feel that at all now.  I feel totally blessed – no cancer and I’m looking my best.  What girl could not be happy with that?”

PHOTO: Akiba Riley at the recent surprise breast cancer awareness party thrown in her honor, along with guests at the party.