SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich joined Y-ME Illinois, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, and the Illinois Department of Public Health Office of Women’s Health today to celebrate the grand opening of the Y-ME Illinois Wig and Prosthesis Salon, the first Y-ME salon in downstate Illinois to help women cope with the effects of cancer treatments. The new salon, located in the Baylis Medical Building in Springfield, will offer wigs, hats, scarves, breast prosthetics and prosthetic bras at no cost to breast cancer patients and other cancer patients with limited financial resources. Today’s celebration included a spa night that offered hair, skin and nail care along with complimentary massage therapy and free food, drinks and musical entertainment.
“I’m excited to be in Springfield tonight for the opening of the first downstate Y-ME salon,” said Mrs. Blagojevich. “With so much focus on the emotional struggle that comes with cancer, we can lose focus of the devastating physical changes. This Wig and Prosthesis Salon is a wonderful first step toward helping women retain their spirit and self-confidence during and after cancer treatments.”
The Y-ME Illinois Wig and Prosthesis Salon will feature a trained fitter to make sure women are properly sized for their items. Patients are encouraged to make appointments but are also welcome to walk-in. TheY-ME National Breast Cancer Organization is a Chicago-based national nonprofit organization with the mission to ensure, through information, empowerment and peer support, that no one faces breast cancer alone. Y-ME has been a member of the IBCCP Statewide Coalition since its inception in 1995, and is currently a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Coalition. Y-ME is also a member of the Penny Severns Breast, Cervical and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Advisory Board and the Ticket for the Cure Board.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be in this area and to offer our programs and services to the women in Springfield and Central Illinois,” said Ruth Brody, Executive Director of Y-ME Illinois. “We are delighted to partner with the SIU Breast Center, who helped make this facility possible, and the First Lady of Illinois, who has been a great supporter of our endeavors.”
“We are pleased to be partnering with First Lady Patti Blagojevich and Y-ME Illinois in offering this unique service that often goes unfulfilled,” said Dr. Gary Dunnington, director of the Breast Center at SIU, a multidisciplinary, research-based clinic offering comprehensive care for breast cancer patients in central and southern Illinois.
“The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is pleased to have Y-ME expand into Springfield so that women diagnosed with breast cancer, through one of our several programs, can receive assistance with wigs, scarves, hats, bras and breast prosthesis,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director.
The First Lady’s participation in today’s ribbon cutting builds on her ongoing efforts to raise awareness about breast cancer. In October, the First Lady kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness month by encouraging African-American women and members of their churches to host “Pink Potlucks,” a social event that promotes women’s health awareness. In addition, Mrs. Blagojevich announced $700,000 in Penny Severns Breast, Cervical and Ovarian Cancer Research Grants and presented the People Are Today’s Heroes (PATH) Award on behalf of the Governor to Dr. Olufunmilayo I. Olopade of the University of Chicago for her dedication to breast cancer research. The First Lady also joined Y-ME Illinois and 1,500 breast cancer advocates at last year’s Y-ME Illinois Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon to honor breast cancer survivors in Illinois and to encourage annual breast cancer screening and mammograms.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer among women 20 years of age and older in the United States. Women diagnosed with breast cancer, on average, have an 88 percent survival rate for the first five years. When breast cancer is diagnosed early, this five-year survival rate increases to 98 percent. An October 2005 study by the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network Collaborators estimated that breast cancer screening reduced the rate of death from breast cancer by up to 23 percent, and found that treatment is likely to be more effective if cancer is detected at an earlier stage. It is estimated that approximately 1,700 women will die of breast cancer in Illinois this year.
Governor Blagojevich has made significant contributions to promote and improve women’s health including:
· Stand Against Cancer Program: In 2003, Gov. Blagojevich funded the Stand Against Cancer Initiative (SAC), a community outreach and screening program targeting the hardest to reach minority women. It is conducted by a coalition of neighborhood organizations, churches and Federally Qualified Health Centers. Since the beginning of the program in 2004, SAC has provided more than 30,000 screenings.
· Increased access to health care: 180,000 more working parents are now covered because of expanded eligibility income limits for the FamilyCare program, increased from 49 percent of the poverty level to 185 percent of the poverty level in the last three years. The Kaiser Foundation has now ranked Illinois first in the nation two years in a row for helping working parents get health care.
· Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act: In July of 2003, the Governor signed the Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act, which requires private health insurance companies that cover prescription drugs to also cover all FDA approved contraceptive drugs and devices.
· Contraceptive Coverage Awareness Campaign: In January 2005, the governor launched a coordinated effort to inform women that private insurance plans that cover outpatient drugs or services are now required to cover all FDA approved contraceptive services and prescriptions.
· Breast and Cervical Cancer Funding: Since taking office, the Governor has added $4 million more in state funding each year to support breast and cervical cancer screening and education. In FY 05, the total amount of state and federal funds supporting breast and cervical cancer programs was $11.45 million. These funds have helped boost the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), which provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and referrals to low-income, uninsured women. IBCCP has provided approximately 150,000 breast and cervical cancer screenings to date.
· Signed women’s health legislation into law: Last summer, Gov. Blagojevich signed several pieces of legislation affecting women’s health in Illinois. The “Ticket for a Cure” is a new lottery game to raise money for breast cancer research. Senate Bill 12 requires insurance companies to cover screenings for breast cancer earlier in a woman’s life if her doctor considers her to be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. House Bill 3564 expanded the Penny Severns Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Fund to include ovarian cancer research. Senate Bill 521 requires insurers to provide coverage for ovarian cancer screening tests for women who are at risk.
For more information on women’s health and programs visit www.idph.state.il.us
or call the Women’s Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or for TTY (hearing impaired use only), 800-547-0466. You may also call the health-line to inquire about the availability of the wellness vans for Pink Potluck events.