Breast cancer activists rally for more funding

October 21, 2010 7:23:39 PM PDT
A new study claims many Chicago-area hospitals do not meet quality standards for breast cancer screening and treatment.

The study was conducted by the Chicago Breast Cancer Quality Consortium which is made up of area health care providers. In addition, African-American women are more likely to dies from breast cancer than whites, according to the study, which did not identify the hospitals taking part.

The new data shows room for improvement. The study says only one third of facilities meeting the standard for finding small cancers. Advocates will continue to monitor the data. In the meantime, some took their argument for more funding to the streets.

"It angers me and saddens me that sisters are out there suffering from this disease and it could be cured or if it were early detected they wouldn't die from it," said Rev. Emma Lozano, Centro Sin Fronteras.

The Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force had reported a disparity in breast cancer deaths. From 2005 to 2007, the death rate for African-American women was 62 percent higher than white women. The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program was created to offer screening and treatment to uninsured women. But the task force reports that there is only enough funding for one out of eight uninsured women.

"The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program certainly is an amazing wonderful program, a great resource. The issue is there are 300,000 uninsured women in Illinois and the program is funded for 40,000," said Eileen Knightly, Task Force & Mercy Hospital.

Among those rallying for more funding were healthcare providers and breast cancer survivors.

"At the time, I had two kids in college, one in high school. So it was very devastating. No insurance. Nobody to talk to, nobody to listen to me. I didn't know what cancer was," said Lula Gordon, Sisters Embracing Life.

Gordon was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago. She got treatment prior to the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program now hopes other women will not have to know the fear of treatment without insurance.

"This is a disease that you can live with and you don't have to be afraid of it," said Gordon.

Earlier this week, a state board was appointed to create standards and best practices to improve care. Funding for screening and treatment is expected to enter into the discussion.


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