This Foundation was borne out of the desire of its Founder, Lekeisha Fields, to provide breast cancer patients, survivors and caregivers with the same level of heartfelt and multi-faceted support that she received from her own family and friends after being diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer in 2016. It has always been our focus to make the services we provide easily accessible to all that we’ve encountered along the way. Only ever requiring two things of these brave souls – proof of a breast cancer diagnosis and ties to the Kinston, North Carolina area.
Unfortunately, on October 2, 2022, we lost the beautiful, guiding light that was the heart of this Foundation to the very disease that was the reason for its creation. To say that it has shaken the members of this Foundation to the core, would be an understatement. In the months that have passed, it has been important for us to process this loss, assess how best to move forward with the vision and mission of the Foundation – and to grieve.
It is often said that in the midst of one’s darkest moments, that the greatest clarity can be gained. The most difficult question that we have faced over these past four months, has been “how and where can we have the greatest impact?” Although we are proud of the Foundation’s past accomplishments, there is so much more to be done. This work has always been personal to us, but with the passing of our Founder there is a new urgency and realization of the importance of the services, outreach and advocacy surrounding breast cancer.
It has become obvious to us that just as seasons change, we must also change to reflect our new reality and the knowledge that we have gained as a Foundation. Going forward there will no longer be a geographical limitation imposed on those that we serve. Breast cancer has no respect or preference for physical location. Neither will this Foundation.
And while there are countless organizations addressing the many ways in which breast cancer impacts not only the patient, but also their loved ones, the reality is that far too few of those are focused specifically on African Americans. Representation in all aspects of life is important. To ignore the fact that the African American experience with breast cancer is far different than other races is to do a disservice to those who face this reality every single day.
The facts speak for themselves. As of 2019, breast cancer became the leading cause of cancer death among African American women. Although the occurrence of breast cancer among African American and Caucasian women is fairly close, African American women are dying at a rate that is 42% higher than the average Caucasian woman. Triple negative breast cancer, which is more common among African American women than any other racial or ethnic group, is both more aggressive and associated with a higher mortality rate. Add to that the barriers to health insurance, disparities in the care received by African Americans, a history of distrust of the medical community and a myriad of other socioeconomic factors that are too numerous to address here. What becomes crystal clear to anyone who even casually searches the terrain of breast cancer organizations is that there is so much that needs to be done and far too few organizations devoted to this work. We believe that the Louetta Roberts Hemby Breast Cancer Foundation is uniquely suited to make a difference in this area. For that reason, we have decided that the resources of this Foundation will have the greatest impact with a focus towards serving, educating and advocating for the African American breast cancer community.
As a Foundation, we will continue to serve all who seek our services without consideration of their race, ethnicity, sex or socioeconomic background. Because it is our belief that the true objective of all who are called to do this work, is the eradication of cancer. A world in which a cancer diagnosis is not the equivalent of a death sentence. In which no family will ever have to endure the pain that we struggle with daily. In making this transition, the Foundation can best focus its resources, outreach and advocacy in ways that will have the greatest impact in a community in which the needs are clearly so dire. We are hopeful that you will join us.
Let’s get to work!
Keywords: triple negative breast cancer, African American, Louetta Roberts Hemby, Foundation, patients, survivors, caregivers