“My motto for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is ‘be bold, brave, and vulnerable in order to spread awareness.’ That’s how I’m supporting myself and supporting others,” said Dr. Le Ondra Clark Harvey, CEO of California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CCCBHA), to which Felton Institute is a proud member and Felton President and CEO Al Gilbert acts as board member and chair of the Program Committee. Her advocacy has shown her the importance of “being public with what happened to me along my journey and holding onto hope.” A breast cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy, Dr. Clark Harvey uses advocacy, art, and humor to spread breast cancer awareness, particularly among Black communities.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to spread awareness about understanding the warning signs of breast cancer, an individual’s risk, and how to take action.
“The importance of this month,” Dr. Clark Harvey explains, “is awareness and taking the opportunity to share openly about the prevalence and the impact of breast cancer. If you don’t know, then you can’t act, meaning you can’t take preventative measures like screening or self-exams, even participation in research and clinical trials.” This advocacy and awareness are particularly vital in Black communities that are disproportionately impacted by breast cancer. Dr. Clark Harvey explains, “Black women have a 41% higher breast cancer mortality rate than white women do. It’s just abysmal,” she said.
Dr. Clark Harvey brings breast cancer awareness to all communities through art and humor. After her mastectomy, she posted photos of herself on social media with t-shirts that read ‘I Lost My Boobs But Not My Sense of Humor’ and ‘Hakuna Ma Tatas,’ among other funny shirts. “The response was incredible,” Dr. Clark Harvey recalled. “It literally went viral. My phone was blowing up with emails, and people were saying, ‘thank you for talking about this and thank you for opening up about it.’” Dr. Clark Harvey then did a photoshoot of her mastectomy scars. No retouching, no blurring anything out, she explained. “I just want to shoot my scars. I want to remember what’s happening and the pain of feeling in this moment.” She continued, “It was hard. And that was incredibly healing. When I got the photos back, I picked a few, and I posted those online. I was nervous,” she explained, but the response was supportive and positive.
Dr. Clark Harvey’s journey with breast cancer inspires, educates, and brings awareness to the public and beyond. “The response that I’ve received has really encouraged me and inspired me to keep being open and sharing,” she said.
To learn more about Dr. Le Ondra Clark Harvey’s story, watch California’s Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month video, which spotlights Dr. Clark Harvey.
Felton Institute responds to the needs of our community by providing innovative, evidence-informed social services to transform lives. Our organization offers 50+ programs that address mental health, the unhoused, early care and education, those impacted by the justice system, transitional age youth, as well as aging adults. Our award-winning programs, which have been recognized as national models, combine the latest scientific research with cultural sensitivity and a deep commitment to supporting and reflecting the communities we serve.
Founded in 1889, Felton is the oldest secular non-profit social services provider in the City and County of San Francisco. We have expanded our services across most Bay Area counties and continue to be at the forefront of pioneering new approaches to meet the emerging needs of underserved populations.
We know what it looks like to successfully build community.
We foster impactful change by strengthening the community as a premiere service provider. We also strengthen other service providers by supporting them in their fiscal, human resources, communications, IT and overall agency operations. With Felton’s support, they are able to focus on providing the best services to their clients, doing the work they were meant to do.
Felton empowers the community and ensures successful outcomes to all we engage with.
Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.