She’s more than a community activist, she’s a fighter for peace in Chicago’s streets.
Ameena Matthews steps in between potentially deadly conflicts to prevent shootings. And now she is now in the middle the greatest fight of her life.
Ameena was diagnosed this year with multiple myeloma— a form of cancer that currently has no cure.
A disease that’s expected to dramatically cut her life-span.
For more than 8 years, Ameena has used her voice to help squash street-beef before it becomes another deadly shooting in some of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods.
Her work became known after being featured in the documentary, “The Interrupters,” a film that follows Chicago’s street-conflict resolvers like Ameena.
But in January, this mother got news that rocked her world.
“It’s no comeback from that,” she say. “You know you can fight as long as you can but in an interval it’s going to win.”
Multiple myeloma is a disease doctors say proves fatal in about 5 years.
“I just feel like why? Why? Why did it pick me?”
Ameena’s illness complicated by the fact-- she no longer has insurance.
She says she was fired last spring, from her job with Cure Violence Chicago, formerly known as Ceasefire.
Ameena says she was accused of falsifying a timesheet. Something she denies doing.
“Throughout the history of my job, it was conflict between them. They didn’t want me to be the face of Ceasefire,” she said. “Now that I’m sick, terminally, and you’re going to fire me?”
Cure Violence is not commenting on the reasons ameena was let go.
But to help, Ameena says members of the community created a GoFundMe page—raising tens of thousands for her medical treatments with money rolling-in from around the world.
Ameena is saving-up for a critical treatment, a high-dose chemo followed by a stem cell transplant. Doctors say this procedure will extend Ameena’s life by about three years.
Ameena spent nearly three weeks at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital for the procedure. But despite the grueling side-effects, Chicago’s streets are all she can think about…
“I got babies out there dying,” she said. “I can’t sleep at night. I can’t cut the television off. The only thing we could have is a conversation and it’s over with. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve done it.”
Ameena says she has a family and a city to fight for. Despite the odds, she refuses to give-up now.
“We’re going to have some other things that we’re going to have to deal with, like bills and hardships and happy times,” she said. “Multiple Myeloma is not going to be a part of my journey. He’s had his time.”
Doctors say right now, Ameena’s cancer is in remission and say that status could last several years.
Research is constantly being done to find a cure for multiple myeloma with studies showing African-American males are twice as likely to get the disease, compared to any other group.