At the age of 38, Desirée was diagnosed with breast cancer, which recurred at age 47. For many who have had to fight breast cancer, Desirée serves as an advocate for patients by openly speaking about her diagnosis to audiences nationally. The core of her message is to encourage patients to truly know their body and feel empowered to steward self, mind, body and soul. Through SHARE’s Side by Side Program, Desirée trains medical students and doctors on how to deliver disappointing news and vehemently supports the importance of patient/doctor communication
She volunteers with the Witness Project of Harlem® (WPH), Survivors In Spirit (SiS), SHARE Dedicated experienced support for women facing breast and ovarian cancers and Young Survival Coalition (YSC) as a board member. Desirée has addressed “Spirituality and Cancer” at CancerCare’s “Living with Cancer” conference. She is featured in Survivors In Spirit’s DVD titled Living, Loving & Learning – The facts about African American women and breast cancer survivorship. Desirée has also served as a panelist at the C4YW conference, Congresswomen Wasserman Schultz's “Beating Breast Cancer EARLY” event and The Norman Lear Center/Hollywood, Health & Society/Writers Guild of America East's The Double XX Files. She has also appeared on ABC World News with Dr. Richard Besser, Arise America News with Debbye Turner Bell, CBS with Dana Tyler, NBC’s TODAY show and the Good Fight with Pat Battle. Desirée is featured in Cancer.Net’s “Navigating Challenges” video series for people newly diagnosed with cancer. She also appears in Cancer Support Community’s ebook on breast reconstruction. She facilitates a support group for women of African, African American and Caribbean heritage who are dealing with breast cancer. Desirée moderated a Women of Color panel at the YSC's Summit.
She serves as a lobbyist, is a member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and a graduate of Project LEAD. As a patient advocate, she’s attended: the Breast Cancer Symposium, the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, American Association for Cancer Research's Scientist-Survivor Program and Rally, Breast Cancer Action's rally at the Supreme Court‘s hearing against Myriad, the Advanced Breast Cancer 2 conference, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO). Desirée is a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense's Breast Cancer Research Program and a patient/stakeholder reviewer for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).
SHARE, Sisters’ Journey, The Keep A Breast Foundation and YSC have recognized her as a breast cancer survivor. They have also honored Desirée for her outstanding work as a volunteer, community leader and educator. Desirée and her daughter, Shayna appear in SHAPE magazine’s article, “Breast Cancer: A Family Affair”. Desirée is the recipient of NBCC’s Grassroots Advocacy Award, African Women Cancer Awareness Association’s Torch Bearer Award and the NAACP Parkchester Branch’s Woman of the Year Award.
Desirée’s diagnosis has created many opportunities as a breast cancer victor to share her talents and aid diverse communities. It has provided her with a platform to be a voice for the voiceless through advocacy and give back by educating and empowering people nationally. Most importantly, she makes time to “smell the roses”, enjoys spending time with family and friends, baking gourmet bread pudding, traveling, attending concerts, cultural programs and sporting events.
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