Over the past two years I have had the privilege of getting to know Dee Dee Ricks. I knew she was a breast cancer survivor, so when I first met her, I asked her to tell me a little about her experience with the disease. Her no-nonsense reply was, “Did you watch my documentary? You need to before we can talk.”
Watching the 2011 HBO film The Education of Dee Dee Ricks, I learned a lot about the woman who had become a fierce advocate for Breast Cancer Navigation. In it, she tells the story, in her gentle southern drawl, of the “education” she received during her three-year journey from breast cancer diagnosis through treatment at the height of her career advising hedge funds. She tells of meeting Cynthia, an African-American woman with no insurance who has received the same diagnosis, and of their unlikely friendship. Dee Dee and Cynthia each struggled with their breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, side-effects, and the impact on their family life. Though Dee Dee eventually recovers and Cynthia is not as lucky, their parallel stories, of haves and have-nots, help viewers realize that the inequities in the health care system begin long before the diagnosis is made.
Making the documentary changes Dee Dee’s life path, and teaches her that access, information and navigation are fundamental for a chance of a cure for breast cancer. Money, materialism, glamour and superficiality give way to discovery of what is really important, both in treatment and in life. By the end of the film, Dee Dee has become a tireless patient advocate and devotee to developing a national program of patient navigation.
This video is a must-see for anyone with breast cancer, so for a limited time, all Breast BFFLBags® will contain a copy of the video. The documentary is also available on iTunes, and makes a great and caring gift.