Natalie Williams welcomes actress Lynn Whitfield. (Photo by Rob Roberts)

A sea of women in pink celebrated breast cancer survivors during an artsy and culture-rich brunch Oct. 4 at the Howard Theatre in Northwest D.C. The second annual “Bustier Brunch: An Afternoon with the Girls” is a signature event for the Natalie Williams Breast Care Foundation, the leading voice in the promotion of breast care awareness among women of color.  Lynn Whitfield, an award-winning actress, was the keynote speaker.

“This weekend Ms. Whitfield visited UMC and had a mammogram to kick off the NWBCF campaign,” Williams said. “The mammography unit took great care of her and she was encouraged by our state-of-the art MicroDose machine that detects even the smallest cancers.”

Natalie Williams, the foundation’s founder and chair, is a 2012 survivor who chose to have a double mastectomy to battle breast cancer. She has become a leading voice for breast care support, advocating regular mammograms for women of color, specifically those who live east of the river where lack of awareness and resources have been reported as the highest in the area.  As a hospital spokesperson at United Medical Center, she also serves as the president of the Ward 8 Democrats and is also an advisory neighborhood commissioner.

Award-winning actress Lynn Whitfield, daughter of a breast cancer survivor and third generation graduate of Howard University, gave the keynote address. Whitfield, graceful and poised, thrilled the audience with her blues-style rendition of Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

Two of Washington, D.C.’s top-rated media personalities served as mistresses of ceremony, Triscina Grey, personality for Howard University’s WHUR 96.3 FM radio station, and Shawn Yancy, co-anchor for Fox 5 News.  Williams said she was pleased the women could make the event.

Miss Cydney Hill, Miss District of Columbia’s Outstanding Teen 2014 brought tears of joy as she opened the brunch with a modern dance performance to the music “I Love the Lord” by Whitney Houston (featuring the Georgia Mass Choir). The Kendall Isadore and the all-female band, Dream Unleashed, provided musical entertainment.

As a part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Williams’ NWBCF has kicked off its “Test my Breast Campaign”, an effort to register women of color for mammograms in record numbers, to combat the overall disparity in the disease and to make sure women are tested regularly.

According to Philips Healthcare and Dr. Raymond Tu, UMC chairman of Diagnostic and Intervention Radiology, MicroDose is the next generation in full-field mammography, where the radiation dose is half of a standard mammogram and the detector is three times greater in density, utilizing a photon detector that produces greater images.  Cutting the radiation dose in half, according to Dr. Wu, reduces the risk of radiation-induced breast cancers, a breakthrough technology for UMC, specifically available to the greater Southeast area.