Wossene Tiruneh Bowler grew up in Ethiopia and moved to the States in the late 80’s to pursue a degree in Film Making. In 1990 she received her Masters degree from the California Institute of Arts and soon married. Once she finished school, she and her husband moved to Singapore where they spent the next 10 years.
In 2000, Wossene was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. She and her husband returned to the States so that she could get treatment at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, California. During her CML journey, it was determined that a bone marrow transplant was the best course of treatment and her brother, a 100% match, was selected to be her donor. Wossene said that this was one of the most difficult times of her life as she didn’t know what was going to happen and what the future held for her.
Following the transplant and recovery, she returned to Ethiopia to be with family and to give thanks to God for caring for her during her illness. Wossene shares that one reason for her return was to make good on a promise she made during her treatment. You see, during treatment, her parents prayed and asked their friends and members of their church to pray for her recovery. Following her transplant, her parents had promised to take her to every church in Ethiopia to share the story of her faith and God’s hand in caring for her during her illness.
For two years, Wossene lived with no recurrence of the leukemia, however, following an incremental bone marrow aspiration, it was determined that her donor cells had not fully grafted and the Philadelphia Chromosome was again present. She restarted CML therapy to ensure that the leukemia did not progress.
Wossene shares that the morning after hearing the results of the test, she found herself in a deep depression and once again having those feelings of uncertainty. A few weeks later, things changed dramatically. Wossene says, “One morning I snapped out of it! It was clear to me; I had survived for a purpose and that purpose was to do good and pay back the people who helped me.”
That day was the beginning of what has become the Life’s Second Chance Foundation. The foundation, established in 2006, works to provide life saving treatment to people diagnosed with cancer in Ethiopia. One of Wossene’s primary goals is to build a hospital and cancer treatment facility in Sheno, Ethiopia. (Artist's rendering shown below.)
She shares that today there is one (1) doctor for every 40,000 people in Ethiopia and one nurse for every 8,000. Most patients do not seek out treatment until it is far too late and many die of cancers that are treatable in other parts of the world. Wossene’s dream is to see life saving change come to Ethiopia through education, medical supplies, and a treatment facility that can care for those diagnosed with cancer.
You can learn more about Wossene’s work in Ethiopia by visiting the foundation website at www.lifessecondchance.info. In addition to the foundation website, visit www.newawakeningcoffee.com and see how Wossene is furthering the mission while providing meaningful work and opportunities in her homeland.