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Founder of organization to help cancer patients dies

Andrea Nugent's activism began after breast cancer diagnosis

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MIRAMAR, Fla. – Andrea Nugent, a business woman, author of a children's book and founder of B.I.O.N.I.C. Girl, a Pembroke Pines-based non-profit organization, died Sunday of complications with breast cancer. She was 46.

Nugent was born in Jamaica and was a graduate of Miami Norland Senior High. She earned a master’s degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University. Her cousin, Orielle Jones, described her as "strong, fearless, caring" and admired that she "never gave up."

Nugent founded the nonprofit in 2011 as a network of volunteers to help cancer patients with picking up medication, transportation and household chores.

She said the name of the organization was an acronym for "Beauty Is Optional: Newer, Improved, Changed."

The American Cancer Society recognized her community service with the Willis Murray Spirit of Hope award in 2012. Other organizations that honored her efforts include Memorial Healthcare System, Hard Rock, the Caribbean American Democratic Club, the Eagle Trace Community, the Boys and Girls Club and the Husbands Against Breast Cancer.

Nugent was not afraid to talk about breast cancer. She had a mammogram Dec. 2, 2008. When no one called from her doctor's office with the results, she assumed the results were negative. That was until she called to make an appointment for an ear infection three months later. She was 39 and a worker’s comp auditor in the insurance industry. She continued to run her own business. 

"Life does not end the day of diagnosis," Nugent wrote on her website

Her son Zachary was two when she underwent treatment -- chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. After treatment, she published "Mommy is Still Mommy: Cancer Can't Change That" to help other moms. Abdel Stewart said on Facebook that she witnessed Nugent's work to help other cancer patients. 

"With each endeavor, she wanted to help those going through cancer live a better life," Stewart said. "Andrea never thought of her circumstances, but always wanted to do more for others in anyway she could."

About two years after treatment, Nugent learned that the cancer had spread to her liver. She remained hopeful, became more adventurous and was often called to be a motivational speaker. Among some of the places she spoke at were Downtown Jewish Center Chabad in Fort Lauderdale and the Tabernacle SDA Church in Miami's El Portal. 

The viewing is from 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday, at the Royal Funeral Service, 17475 NW 27 Ave., in Miami Gardens. Her son and three boys that she had been caring for and wanted to adopt survive her. The family asks that donations to help her son be made to this GoFundMe account.