Patient Leader

Lauded as the most transparent voice of this generation, Walela Nehanda is a community organizer and poet battling advanced stage leukemia. In 2017, Walela was hospitalized with a white blood cell count of 660,000 - the highest their hospital had ever seen and it takes much less the cause a stroke. From that moment onward, it's been a fight. Even in their battle against cancer and taking oral chemo resulting in secondary health conditions, Walela continues to advocate for others online: whether using their platform to educate thousands on disability, cancer, mental illness, the history of medical racism from past to now, and ableism, or using their community organizing skills to be a co-founder of Spit Justice - a collective based in South Central Los Angeles that focuses on things like community events, mutual aid programs (ie free food distributions), healing circles, reading groups, and more. Walela's fierce vulnerability about their own cancer battle is intentional for it has allowed patients to feel seen and empowered, caregivers to understand better, and for everyone who comes across Walela's page to unpack what it truly means to navigate the world as a young, poor, and Black cancer patient.


Los Angeles, CA


Lifetime Achievement Patient Leader Hero Best in Show: Instagram Best Kept Secret

Walela is a patient hero is because they use their platform to teach other poor, black, working class patients to advocate for themselves in this harsh & unjust medical system. They provide resources & share their painful personal stories to help others. Walela does all of this whilst battling advance stage cancer. They are beyond inspirational.  — Johanna

Walaela is a human with a wealth of knowledge across many content areas. Their knowledge and community first mindset are valuable assets that are yes, the best kept secret. Hopefully by winning more diverse members of the community will be able to gain critical knowledge from Walela, for not only the improvement of oneself, but the community too.  — Ryse

Walela is one of the greatest community organizers i have known and someone who constantly uplifts their community. Walela uses their platform not only to organize, but to share gifts that help raise the consciousness of others and well as bring healing, something very needed. Walela inspires me to do the same work in own community. Thank you  — Mateo

Walela is a powerful community organizer dedicated to freedom work. They are a crucial voice for our generation demanding that we confront and dismantle the racism, anti-blackness, ableism, classism, & medical apartheid embedded into the very structure of hospitals & medical institutions. There is no work more important & more urgent than this.  — Vienna


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