According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer rates among African-American women in the United States are still increasing.
On March 19, Doretha “Miss Dee” Burrell, owner of Y-U Breast Cancer Foundation hosted the “In the Know” health, wellness and community outreach event held at the Transamerica Agency Network office building located in Waldorf, in order to reach out and provide support to women with breast cancer. Local organizations and businesses were invited to set up a table and display information about breast cancer and cancer awareness for local residents and visitors from all over the region.
“It’s important to know the Y-U Breast Cancer Foundation is here to help people in the Waldorf and Charles County area, who are fighting breast cancer,” Burrell said.
The foundation created the event to help different businesses that have partnered with the foundation raise awareness in the community. Local residents were able to speak to Dr. Shakiera Hockaday-Bey, owner of Herbal Infusion in Fort Washington, about detoxing, cleanses and reversing cancer using herbal treatments. Jerry Wade, a Charles County health department representative, handed out information about cancer screenings, while David Thomas, a Wells Fargo’s representative doled out financial advice for survivors. Daily Love & Wellness Coach Deborah DeFlorimonte handed out information, and Transamerica Agency Network Executive Director Erika Robinson and Transmerica Agency Network Insurance Representative Claude Gibbs discussed cancer insurance for survivors.
Burrell and the businesses helped educate people in the county about the resources for cancer survivors that are “right in their backyard.”
“I’ve always wanted to give information and help people to take care of their health. Sometimes patients give their doctors control over medications and everything else but they don’t realize that they can take control and they can change it. My store has formulas that are a combination of vitamins and herbs that will help with blood pressure, diabetes, energy and depression. We hear stories about cancer everyday and its something that if we take control of it then we can stop it before it gets to the point where it affects their life,” said Hockaday-Bey.
Burrell has had to overcome many difficult obstacles such as losing her two half-sisters to breast cancer and losing her mother to cancer at the same time when Burrell was enduring her own treatment for breast cancer.
“I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 2007, a very aggressive form of breast cancer caught at a very early stage. I celebrated my ninth year [in remission] not too long ago and now through my foundation, I am able to help others detect cancer at an early stage,” Burrell said.
In 2012, Burrell founded the Y-U Breast Cancer Foundation.
“When I was going through chemotherapy, I said if I ever did a foundation I would want it to be just like this,” Burrell said.
The Y-U Breast Cancer Foundation is focused on helping to build self-esteem for women who have gone through losing her hair and even witnessing their own relationships fall apart. Burrell’s breast cancer was in remission as of 2011 and said she hopes to continue to help re-instill self-esteem and motivation into breast cancer survivors and women currently fighting the disease.
“The foundation’s name stands for Your-Unique Breast Cancer Foundation because every woman who is battling cancer is unique and comes out of their experience totally different,” Burrell said. “We want to open up the doors necessary to support women such as partnering with other people, businesses and organizations who would sponsor or donate items to us because the self-esteem of a woman who has gone through cancer can be very low.”
“I have witnessed first hand, the loving, caring and hands-on support my mother has provided countless women diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Andrea Burrell. “She gives so much of herself just to ensure women diagnosed with breast cancer never feel alone during their journey. There is no limit to support she will provide to a woman in need of a listening ear, an encouraging word or a genuine act of kindness.”
Zulieka Horsey, coordinator for Y-U Breast Cancer Foundation, has been working with Burrell since the foundation’s inception.
“Miss Dee provides real first hand experience of someone who has gone through a similar journey as the women and survivors who the foundation comes into contact with. She offers encouragement, resources and support to the families. When my mother-in-law had breast cancer, Miss Dee came to my family’s house to discuss some expectations and the things we would experience throughout the process. It was a tough time for my family and she really provided support that put us at ease. Miss Dee is someone who will support you wherever you are and stretches forth a helping hand and has a good spirit,” Horsey said.
“After hearing Miss Dee’s story, we wanted to help foster awareness about cancer and breast cancer screenings because its a shame when people find out [they have cancer when it is in] Stage 4,” Robinson said. “Often times people don’t realize that once they become a cancer survivor, they are still eligible for different types of coverage. We were able to get Miss Dee coverage so our whole focus is to let people know that there is coverage to get expenses paid or even a lump sum to take care of recovery, your mortgage and other expenses. Cancer patients and survivors need to know the importance of having your documents in order.”
Burrell currently lives in the Waldorf area and works for a retired U.S. District Court judge. In addition to her already busy schedule, Burrell and the Y-U Breast Cancer Foundation has helped approximately 50 or more women who are breast cancer survivors as well as their family members.