At the age of 38, Desirée was diagnosed with breast cancer, which recurred at age 47. For many who have had to face breast cancer, Desirée serves as an advocate for patients by openly speaking about her diagnoses to audiences nationally and internationally. The core of her message is to encourage patients to truly know their bodies 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, SHARE Dedicated experienced support for women facing breast and ovarian cancers, and Young Survival Coalition as President, Board of Director. She is a member of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship’s (NCCS) CPAT and Redefining Functional Status Steering Committees, The Central Institutional Review Board for the National Cancer Institute and Society of Integrative Oncology’s (SIO) Patient Advocate Committee. She’s a Community Partner/Patient Advocate at the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai and Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NY Presbyterian Hospital’s Patient Advisory Group and Community Advisory Board. Desirée is also a member of The Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard’s Health Literacy Resources for Clinical Research Workgroup and a former member of the CDC’s Advisory Council on Breast Cancer in Young Women.
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 Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Beating Breast Cancer EARLY event, The Double XX Files hosted by The Norman Lear Center/Hollywood, Health & Society/Writers Guild of America East, SXSW’s International Women’s Day event, the FDA/OCE Educational Series - Conversations in Cancer and SIO’s Sleeping Well After Cancer: Translating Patient-Centered Research into Practice. She has provided a patient advocate perspective at NCCS’s Cancer Policy Roundtable, MSKCC’s National Minority Cancer Awareness event, AAADV Annual Meeting, Eisai’s Employee Luncheon, Pfizer’s Advocacy Dinner, The Cornell Center for Health Equity’s Tri-Institutional Symposium on Health Equity, and the 12th AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities. She has presented on Advocates Mentoring Advocates at the NIEHS & NCI’s Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP).
Desirée appeared on “ABC World News” with Dr. Richard Besser, “Arise America News” with Debbye Turner Bell, CBS with Dana Tyler, NBC’s “TODAY Show,” “The Good Fight” with Pat Battle, “Here and Now” with Sandra Bookman, The Breakfast Club with DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God and NBC’s “Weekend Today in New York.” Desirée played a part in Cancer.Net’s Navigating Challenges video series for people newly diagnosed with cancer and the Cancer Support Community’s ebook on breast reconstruction. Desiree is featured in Yahoo Beauty’s “Bald, Beautiful: Meet 7 Women Empowered by Having No Hair, a CURE magazine article “Veering Off Course: Addressing Challenges in Chemotherapy and Radiation Adherence” and Conquer Cancer Foundation’s Annual Report - Your Stories mini-podcast. She appears in Novartis’ Video Emotional Impact and Pfizer’s Ask Me Anything Video Series with Andy Schmeltz, Global President. Desirée facilitates a support group for women of African descent who are dealing with breast or ovarian cancer.
She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) Project LEAD® and has attended numerous NBCC Hill Days. As a patient advocate, she’s attended: the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, AACR Annual Meeting and the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved conference, Breast Cancer Action's rally at the Supreme Court‘s hearing against Myriad, European School of Oncology’s ABC2, ABC3 & ABC4 and BCY2 conferences, ASCO Annual Meeting, Breast Cancer and Cancer Survivorship Symposiums, SIO conference, NIEHS & NCI’s BCERP conference, and Movement is Life: Catalyst for Change’s National Caucus on Arthritis & Musculoskeletal Health Disparities conference. Desirée has been a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, a patient reviewer for PCORI and a community partner reviewer on the Cornell Center for Health Equity Pilot Studies Review Committee. As a patient advocate, she brings her experience to a team of cancer researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
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 health 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, the NAACP Parkchester Branch’s Woman of the Year Award and Young Survival Coalition Game Changer Award. She has been a guest blogger for ASCO’s Cancer.Net and the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program.
Desirée’s diagnoses motivated her to become a patient advocate to share her talents and aid diverse communities. She uses her platform to be a voice for the voiceless and pay forward by educating and empowering people around the world. Most importantly, she makes time to “smell the roses” and feels blessed to enjoy time with family and friends, bake gourmet bread pudding, travel and attend concerts, cultural programs and sporting events.