Among her many roles and achievements, Fiona Ma is a pioneering politician who was elected to the California 12th
District Assembly, as well as a business entrepreneur who started her
own accounting practice to combat the career glass ceiling that exists
for many women.
I first met Fiona at the annual Be a Hep B Warrior organized by
AsianWeek Foundation where she was the keynote speaker. Her staunch
demeanor combined with her low-key humor kept the large audience of
about 500 fully attentive. The impression I arrived at was that nothing
-- nothing -- gets in Ma’s way.
Before launching into an impassioned appeal in her speech for greater
awareness and regular testing, Ma talked about her own history with the
virus. At age 22, she went to donate blood and was rejected when HBV
was found in her bloodstream. After receiving the rejection notice, she
asked her mother about it and was told that she was only a “silent
carrier,” as was later confirmed by her Asian American doctor. It was
after speaking to Ted Fang and Dr. Sam So at an AsianWeek Foundation
press conference that Fiona finally got tested. Dr. Sam So had told her
that she had chronic Hep B and that 1/4 of people like her would develop
liver cancer or require a liver transplant. Since that April 2007 press
conference, she immediately went to her doctor and insisted on a blood
test and liver ultra sound, to which her doctor reluctantly complied.
Fiona also encouraged her entire family to get tested and screened.
Labels: Advocacy, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), Fiona Ma