LEWISBURG, Pa . - A member of Bucknell's extended community lost her battle with brain cancer this week after a "spirited and courageous" battle.
Akua "Adoma" Ofori, the sister of recent graduate Kodjo Karikari, died Sunday at York Hospital in York, Pa., several weeks after receiving critical surgery for a Stage IV Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor. She was 17.
Karikari, a native of Ghana who studied neuroscience at Bucknell, turned to the University community and others in the Susquehanna Valley to help his sister come from his home country to the United States for treatment. In late June, surgeons removed much of a malignant tumor from Ofori's thalamus, the control center of brain.
On Thursday, Karikari released a statement titled, "Saying Goodbye to an Angel" on a website dedicated to Ofori's cause.
"She fought with great dignity and taught us all how to be courageous in the face of the worst kind of adversity," Karikari wrote. "She remained cheerful throughout her struggle and held on for several months longer than most people who have succumbed to this kind of aggressive tumor, a testament to her strong will."
Community effort Karikari, a Bucknell Community College Scholar, worked with Bucknell International Student Services, the Bucknell African Students Association and the Bucknell University Student Transfer Association as well as several community members to raise awareness and funds for Ofori's care. The groups raised more than $18,000 in less than six weeks and built important connections that led to York Hospital accepting Ofori as a charity case.
Karikari described his sister as "spirited" and optimistic even as she faced a daunting illness, with limited options for treatment in her own country. Ofori began to experience symptoms including severe headaches, disorientation and memory loss in October. She later became bedridden and unable to complete normal daily tasks.
Doctors in Ghana initially diagnosed Ofori with a benign, slow-growing tumor, and the family was told that the hospitals in Ghana did not have the equipment to operate on her. Doctors at York Hospital discovered, however, that the tumor was cancerous.
The family plans to have Ofori transported back to Ghana, where she lived and attended school before her illness. Karikari said the family is grateful to all who worked to make Ofori's surgery possible and for their continued support.
"She will be remembered for being sassy, confident and incredibly beautiful in body and in spirit," Karikari said. "While we mourn the loss of such a brave young girl, we find some comfort in the fact that she is now at peace. We shall return with her to Ghana safe in the knowledge that we all did as much as we possibly could. Her life and death serve as a reminder that life is a gift. We are now called to honor her memory."
Giving back The family plans to establish a foundation in memory of Ofori to offer healthcare opportunities for the underprivileged. Donations continue to be accepted through the Walk On Foundation website or by mailing a check to Walk on Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 62, Mifflinburg, PA 17844. The family intends to contribute any remaining funds to Casa Corazon to help others like Ofori.
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