CHICAGO – Standing outside of Wrigley Field with breast cancer patients and survivors from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich honored women this Mother’s Day by reminding them that routine breast cancer screenings can save lives. Before the game representatives from the Governor’s office distributed information on the recently expanded Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), which makes sure all uninsured women who need access to potentially life-saving cancer screenings and treatment can get it.
“Doctors tell us that breast and cervical cancer, if detected early, can be treated and stopped, but many women believe they can’t get the help they need because they can’t afford a mammogram or a Pap Test. Today, on Mother’s Day, we are reaching out to make sure our moms, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters all know that in Illinois, there’s no reason to skip potentially-life saving breast cancer screenings. Now every uninsured woman who needs screening and treatment for breast cancer can get it through the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Every woman in Illinois deserves access to the basic health screenings and treatment that could save her life. We need to continue to spread the word.”
“I am so proud to stand by the Governor today and continue to make people aware of this initiative. Illinois has made tremendous strides and is setting the precedent for women’s health for the rest of our nation. We have helped thousands of women so far and we will reach out to thousands more,” said Debbie Williams of the Komen Foundation and a breast cancer survivor. “Early detection is absolutely essential and will save lives. It is so very important for women to get out there and take advantage of programs like these.”
“I have been fighting breast cancer for nine years. This fight has given meaning to my disease,” said Robin Troiani, who currently has Stage Four breast cancer. “As a mother, I want to show my children that we women don’t have to take this lying down. As a nurse, I want to make sure that every woman in Illinois knows they need to become aware of the resources available to them and get tested early. Together, we can beat this.”
Today also marked the celebration of “Project Pink” for the Chicago Cubs and all of Major League Baseball. During the games played on Mother's Day, MLB players swing pink bats and wear pink wristbands and pink titanium necklaces in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer.
On October 1, 2007, the Governor expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, making Illinois the first and only state to offer free breast and cervical cancer screening and low-cost treatment to all uninsured women in Illinois. The number of women who have been served and screened through the IBCCP continues to grow.
So far in fiscal year 2008, more than 21,064 women have been served through the IBCCP. IBCCP providers have performed more than 12,000 mammograms and 8,700 Pap tests so far in fiscal year 2008, which represents a 25 percent increase in mammograms and a 15 percent increase in Pap tests over the same period in fiscal year 2007.
“Early detection of breast and cervical cancer is the key to survival. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent when it is detected early and cervical cancer can virtually be eliminated when detected early. We need to get this message out to all women and what better way than to invite your friends over for a meal and talk about these important issues,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
On Monday, the State of Illinois also kicked off the “Pink Potluck” campaign – an effort to get the word out about the importance of routine breast and cervical cancer screenings. Illinois' First Lady Patti Blagojevich kicked off the first “Pink Potlucks” in 2005 by inviting women in congregations and community groups across the state to host the events. Just like a regular potluck, everyone coming to the event brings a healthy dish or dessert to share and the State provides information about getting screened for breast and cervical cancer. The potlucks are also an opportunity for women to talk about other health issues they face such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and obesity.
For information on hosting a “Pink Potluck” or how to get breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment by logging onto www.cancerscreening.illinois.gov or by calling the Women’s Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or for TTY (hearing impaired use only), 800-547-0466. Information on IBCCP and other women’s health and programs can also be found on the IDPH website, www.idph.state.il.us.