A Letter from Dee Dee

Our forefathers guaranteed us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We are familiar with the current debate on the right to life, an important issue.  I often thought over the past five years that they should have integrated the constitutional right to live.  Why am I speaking to you about your constitutional right to live?  I got lucky.  The best thing, other than my two children, happened to me.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The documentary that premiered on HBO was four and a half years in the making.  A year later, THE EDUCATION OF DEE DEE RICKS is now available to everyone.

I will be asking for your help as we bring Patient Navigation to the forefront of the battle for access to healthcare FOR ALL.  Some have asked me what’s next after the film?  My work is just beginning.  We’ve brought attention to the issue, now let’s work together to help those most in need.  I love my country tremendously but for the first time in my life, I worry about our country’s future.  We have a lot to do together to change things.  I am reminded of the immortal words of JFK “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  As an American citizen, it is my obligation to do my part to make sure we honor our forefather’s wishes for our country as well as the right to live for all regardless of race or socioeconomic status. America gave me my life, a beautiful life, where I am exercising my right to live.  My life now is dedicated to the 100 million Americans who aren’t able to access treatment so they may also exercise their constitutional right to live.

The title of the film, the education of dee dee ricks, could not be more après-pro.  The education I have received since diagnosis and the woman that exists now is very different from the woman you see in the beginning of the movie.  I am not proud of the person I was, however, because of cancer, I can honestly say, I am a woman that has changed for the better.  In the eternal words of Ghandi “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Cancer gave me a second chance to better my life and to be a change agent for those in need. I am grateful for the two biggest miracles in my life, my children and cancer.

Many have asked me what will help solve the healthcare crisis.  This is a complex topic where I am not an expert.  I do, however, continue to further my education and still believe that after 5 ½ years of educating Dee Dee Ricks, patient navigation is a strong and low-tech solution to lowering health care costs and mortality rates through timely access to treatment.

Cynthia Ann Dodson

Cynthia Ann Dodson (1965-2009)

If you take anything away from this film, the story of me as a white successful woman battling cancer vs Cynthia, an uninsured African American diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, it should be this – Cynthia Dodson would be alive today if she had a Navigator from the onset.  Cynthia knew she had a lump on her breast and went to three different organizations over three years to try to obtain coverage to get further diagnostic testing. If an outreach navigator could have gotten her to a clinic, she would have been treated at an earlier stage. She would have most likely survived.

I lost a dear friend when Cynthia died.  On her deathbed, I made her a promise to fight for women like her and never give in to the battle. We cannot win the battle against a deadly disease unless we have the ammunition to fight it.  Join with me as we give those most in need the ammo needed to win the war on chronic disease and close our current divide of healthcare disparities.

–Dee Dee


From Patient to Activist

As a cancer survivor, Dee Dee Ricks knows firsthand the pain, the trauma and the daily stress a patient endures. Now she’s helping others navigate their way through that maze.


Help make a difference in patients’ lives by supporting training programs for patient navigators.


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The Education of Dee Dee Ricks premiered October 27 on HBO.

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