CHICAGO – Governor Blagojevich’s, “Pink Potluck” event was held today in Chicago to raise awareness about the importance of routine breast and cervical cancer screenings. “Pink Potlucks” are an opportunity for women to talk about the importance of early detection and to learn more about the Governor’s recently expanded Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP). Currently, all uninsured women are eligible for free screenings and low-cost treatment options through the IBCCP.
“The events we are hearing about today bring communities together to celebrate, but also serve as one of the best ways to get the word out about the importance of getting screened early for breast and cervical cancer. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to give your mother, sister or friend the gift of knowledge that can save their life,” said Mireya Hurtado, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Governor.
Illinois' First Lady, Patti Blagojevich, kicked off the first “Pink Potlucks” in 2005 by inviting women in congregations and community groups throughout the state to host the events. Like a traditional potluck, women bring a healthy dish or dessert to share and the State provides information about getting screened for breast and cervical cancer.
Lynette Santiago, Executive Director of Community Programs for Rebaño, expressed her support for the Governor’s initiative by providing screenings and treatment for uninsured women. “After the Pink Potluck campaign was announced we have seen hundreds of women of all ages recognizing how important their health is,” Santiago said. “In order for them to live longer action most be taken now. The congregation is an example of the collective efforts that need to be in place to reach out to the most vulnerable.”
Gov. Blagojevich recognized the importance of early detection and expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) on October 1, 2007 making Illinois the first and only state to offer free breast and cervical cancer screening and low-cost treatment to all uninsured women. The number of women who have been screened through the IBCCP continues to grow thanks to Gov. Blagojevich and the expansions he’s made to the program in Illinois.
Over the course of fiscal year 2008, more than 19,500 women have been screened through the IBCCP—an almost 20 percent increase over the same period in fiscal year 2007. IBCCP providers have performed more than 12,000 mammograms and 8,700 Pap tests in fiscal year 2008. (A 25 percent increase in mammograms and a 15 percent increase in Pap tests over the same period in fiscal year 2007).
“Early detection is important and also to have access to information which is something I didn’t have in my community the first time I had breast cancer,” said Emma Lozano, two-time breast cancer survivor.” If it wasn’t for my church, faith and prayer, I would not have survived. I believe we need culturally sensitive information for our community.”
Hosting a “Pink Potluck” is not only a way to spread the word about this life saving program, it’s also an opportunity for women to come together to discuss other health issues such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. National Women’s Health Week is May 11-27, 2008 with the theme “Get Inspired, Get Healthy.” The “Pink Potluck” campaign is an effort to inspire women to get together and learn what they can do to live a healthier lifestyle by making sure they get routine screenings, are physically active and adhere to a healthy diet.
For more information about hosting a “Pink Potluck” and to obtain information regarding free breast and cervical cancer screenings and low-cost treatment options, log onto www.cancerscreening.illinois.gov .