Desirée A.H. Walker is a 2-time breast cancer survivor whose initial diagnosis was at age 38 with a recurrence at age 47. She is an active Young Survival Coalition (YSC) volunteer and Vice President of the Board of Directors. Recently, she was named Co-Chair of YSC’s Council of Advisors to champion our nationwide diversity and inclusion program. We are honored to present Desirée A.H. Walker as a YSC Game Changer for her work on YSC’s Board of Directors.
Desirée lobbies with patient advocacy organizations in Albany, NY, and Washington, DC. She sits on the Central Institutional Review Board for the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women. She is also a consumer/peer reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Initiatives respectively. These endeavors provide her with a well-rounded viewpoint not only on prevention, diagnosis and treatment but most significantly on health equity, patient quality of life and survivorship after disease.
What inspires you in your work to support, empower or educate young women affected by breast cancer?
I am inspired as I witness the changes in conversations surrounding young women and breast cancer as people realize that it’s different for this population. Also, I am encouraged by the growing number of supportive services, resources and educational materials available today. I want young women to know they are not alone during this challenging period in their lives. Seeing their empowerment motivates me.
What about your work for young women affected by breast cancer makes you most proud?
As a young woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer, I am proud to share my personal experience and to have the opportunity to be a voice for a group that was missing from earlier breast cancer discussions. Progress is being made with researchers, healthcare providers, etc., albeit slowly. However, I am thankful the distinct needs of young women are at least recognized now and attempts to meet them are well underway.
What are your hopes for the future, with regard to YSC and young breast cancer survivors?
I hope that no person ever hears the words “you have breast cancer” in the future. My wish is that YSC remains the premier organization serving young women experiencing breast cancer, their co-survivors and healthcare providers. For young breast cancer survivors, it is my desire that they will either act on their dreams deferred or become dreamers again.
What is your message for YSC on its 20th anniversary?
Happy 20th Anniversary YSC! May you always be as bold, forward-thinking and influential as you were in 1998! As you grow, may you also be more diverse and inclusive, so every person diagnosed knows they can turn to you for support and get up-to-date facts to help make informed decisions.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Kudos to Roberta Levy-Schwartz, Lanita Moss and Joy Simha for your vision! #OriginalBCYWGameChangers
About YSC and Game Changers
Young Survival Coalition was founded in 1998 by young women diagnosed with breast cancer under age 35.
YSC is made up of people: survivors, co-survivors, volunteers, donors, healthcare providers. Our strength comes from our community. So in our 20th year, we will honor our roots — the people who have helped build YSC into what it is today — and also look forward, recognizing those in our community who are changing the future of breast cancer in young women.
We are highlighting these individuals as Game Changers throughout 2018 and sharing their stories with the world to thank them for their contributions to our community.