INTERVIEW WITH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF DELAWARE BREAST CANCER COALITION VICKY COOKE

It was an awesome time and a very interesting interview with vicky cooke

Vicky Cooke is the Executive Director of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC). She attended the University of Delaware and Villanova University. She is a former member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Board of Directors and a graduate of NBCC’s Project LEAD and Clinical Trials LEAD. 

 She also served as a volunteer board member of DBCC for five years, helping to raise funds and serving as a spokesperson for the organization’s grassroots projects. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Vicky spent much of her career as an advocate on behalf of breast cancer issues in Delaware. 

 In 2000, Vicky was hired as DBCC’s first Executive Director and expanded the agency to a statewide organization developing programs and services that address the breast cancer needs of women and men in Delaware and the tri-state region. From breaking down barriers to mammography screening to helping to support a newly diagnosed patient, Vicky was and continues to be an engaged and highly dedicated community member. 

Vicky served and continues to serve on many community coalitions including the Delaware’s Cancer Consortium, Highmark’s BluePrints for the Community Advisory Council, and various local cancer agency boards. 

In June 2017, Vicky was awarded the inaugural Victoria Cooke Leadership Award for her vision and direction at the Coalition. She has offered incredible support and leadership to so many survivors, members of the medical community, business leaders, and friends with distinguished grace and humility.

The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) began in 1991 as a small group of community volunteers, led by Maureen Lauterbach, who were committed to decreasing the mortality rate of breast cancer in Delaware. In 1997, DBCC became a 501c(3) non-profit organization serving to raise awareness of breast health issues in Delaware through outreach, education and support to help facilitate early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Today, DBCC has grown its staff to a combined 17 full-time and part-time employees and has an office serving citizens in each of the three counties in Delaware – New Castle, Kent and Sussex.

DBCC has developed and implemented programs tailored to the unique needs of different populations, including young women with breast cancer, African-American women, Latinas, lesbians, and women with disabilities. DBCC has trained health care providers on providing culturally competent care, and has conducted many educational sessions for the general public through corporate and community organizations. In addition, DBCC has referred thousands of uninsured adults for free and low-cost cancer screenings, and has removed barriers to cancer screenings and treatment by providing interpretation, transportation, and support services.

As a member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, represented on its board of directors, DBCC has worked to support the national organization’s efforts to research the causes of breast cancer and pursue optimal treatments and cures.

In 2004, DBCC partnered with the State of Delaware to manage the Women’s Mobile Health Screening Van program to provide outreach and screening mammography services. In 2009, the mobile underwent an upgrade to digital mammography imaging equipment and began to partner with Beebe Medical Center to coordinate our mammography services. In 2016 a new mammography screening van was unveiled which includes cervical cancer screenings along with glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure testing.

Today, DBCC remains the only organization in the State of Delaware focused solely on breast health issues as they affect the women and men who live here. DBCC also is proud to serve our neighbors in the surrounding communities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.

In her words she said her story is an interesting one because she was diagnose with breast cancer 25 years ago and a time were breast cancer was still hidden and you can’t determine who you can tell that u had breast cancer and as at then she was working for a youth agency for young girls and she had three daughters and nine grandchildren and she was going through a lot her daughter was getting married, she had a daughter in college and high school and her husband just lost his job, and she became the bread winner, she had a wedding to plane at the military academy in Annapolis and she just have to say to the breast cancer to get at the back of the line. She had chemo and radiation but was able to get through it all.

She also said a great sense of giving back and because of her nonprofit background she found a group that was just beginning to doing some advocacy work in breast cancer and she was a volunteer for five years after which she was appointed as the first director of the Delaware breast cancer coalition.

 

When asked how she was able to overcome her husband’s death and being diagnose with cancer again she said she think because she have a very wonderful network of family and friends and that’s what so important surrounding yourself with positive people and she is a firm believer that whatever we need when we are presented a challenge we have deep down inside us, we just need to reach down and get that strength and you might not like the outcome and life is not going to go the way we want it to go but you have to be able to accept what has happen and have a positive attitude also surround yourself with positive people and get all the knowledge that you can about whatever the issue is like in her case she has a pretty good knowledge about breast cancer because she has been involved with as an agency for over twenty years, so having that and reaching out to the people who are going to help her through it not get in her way.

On advise on how to prevent breast cancer she said it’s important to know your family history although eighty percent of the breast cancer have no genetic background but it is important to know, there is no prevention for breast cancer but you can reduce the risk by having a healthy lifestyle so eating properly, having a good diet, exercising properly, keep taking good care of yourself and trying to not have what is called the comorbidities so if you have diabetes or high blood pressure  or high cholesterol sometime those are the kind of things that complicate someone who is diagnose with breast cancer because not only are you trying to treat the breast cancer but you are also treating those other disease too.

And as far as screening she would recommend that screening begin at forty for women but if you have a high risk or you have issues with your breast then talk to the doctor about getting screening earlier.

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