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Granite Bay, CA, father-daughter duo shed light on Asian American health issues


GRANITE BAY, California (KOVR) -- Asian American Pacific Islander leaders from all fields headed to Los Angeles this weekend for UCLA's AAPI Policy Summit. Among those speaking at the event were a father-daughter duo from Granite Bay, working to be the voices of two different health issues impacting the AAPI community.

Dr. David Yee, a Urologic Oncologist, shared data that shows the healthcare disparities amongst AAPI groups. As a cancer surgeon, one of his passions is reducing healthcare disparities in terms of cancer outcomes.

He and his colleagues at Sutter Medical Group took a deep dive into cancer screenings for the local population. Cancer is the leading cause of death for Asian Americans. Dr. Yee says, when it comes specifically to breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings, Asian Americans perform worse than all other ethnic groups.

As they looked at cancer screenings among ethnicities at Sutter Health, general data showed the Asian American population doing well compared to other ethnic groups. However, as they disaggregated the data, they discovered that certain sub-populations within the AAPI group fell behind when it came to screening numbers.

"It's really important to look deeper into your data because you might be missing something," Dr. Yee said. "You don't want to fall into what they often call the 'model minority' myth where Asian Americans are doing well and nothing really needs to be done... but that's not true."

For example, data showed that American Indian and Alaska Native, Pacific Islander and Korean groups have significant disparities in breast cancer screening rates.

"Asian Americans are not a monolithic group, we're actually comprised of many different ethnicities and nationalities," Dr. Yee said.

Dr. Yee's passion for healthcare and his drive to speak up on issues are qualities that run in his family. In a summit full of researchers, community leaders, academics and business leaders -- there was a familiar face in the crowd.

Yee's 16-year-old daughter, Sarah, also spoke at the conference. The Granite Bay high schooler is passionate about mental health; she served as a volunteer crisis counselor with the California Coalition for Youth.

In a room full of adults, Sarah looked to bring a unique perspective when it comes to challenges facing AAPI youth. She says there is a disconnect between the available resources and the amount of young Asian Americans actually using those resources.

"Something I went through in my own personal experience is not being comfortable and not feeling like the resources were culturally competent to serve me," Yee said. "Something I'm really trying to promote and I hope to speak more on at this summit is going into communities and having open conversations, with not only the kids but the parents as well."

As Sarah shares insight beyond her years, her father watches with pride. In the Yee family, sometimes the student becomes the teacher.

"I'm very privileged and humbled that my daughter shares a passion in community service and civic service," Dr. Yee said. "Having her come down to UCLA with me to speak at the policy summit is a father's dream come true."

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