Community raises awareness for breast cancer

By Kate Szyszka

When most people think of October, they think of Halloween, the colors orange and black.

However, to many people, the color pink also proves to be common throughout October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Carle Clinic, an extension of Carle Foundation Hospital, will launch its Pink Perks program this month for its second year. Women who receive a mammogram at Carle’s main campus in Urbana, Carle Clinic or at its Danville clinic now through September 2009 will earn Pink Perk cards.

“The goal of the program is to get women to come in and have mammograms,” said Jodie Sommers, senior patient care manager at Carle Clinic. “It’s kind of a reward for them to get the mammogram.”

Some businesses participating in the Pink Perks program include KoFusion, Image 2 Salon, The Cake Artist’s Studio, Jane Addams Book Shop and Carle Foundation Hospital Gift Shop. These businesses have allowed the cardholders to receive discounts on their products and services.

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“We really want to get across to women to just do it,” Sommers said.

Carle Clinic Imaging performed 34,000 mammograms last year, Sommers said. This past spring, the breast cancer department moved to the Mills Breast Cancer Institute in Urbana and expanded its work by hiring two new radiologists trained in breast imaging.

Champaign, McClean and Vermilion Counties are also offering free breast and pelvic exams to uninsured women. The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program is located at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District in Champaign.

“There are no income requirements to participate in this program,” said Kathy Propst, Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program coordinator. “The program is funded through the Center for Disease Control.”

Other area involvement to help Breast Cancer Awareness month allows more area residents to become involved.

Provena Covenant Medical Center also sponsored “It’s All in the Jeans Day” last Friday. This event encouraged employees of area businesses to make a small donation for the privilege of wearing jeans for the day at work.

Area schools also participated in the event. St. Thomas More High School in Champaign allowed students to wear jeans instead of uniforms for a donation, while Dr. Howard Elementary School in Champaign allowed students to wear “caps for cancer” for a 50 cent donation last Friday.

“Last year we had 80 businesses, and we made around $20,000 for ‘All in the Jeans Day,'” said Julie Melton, development specialist at Provena. “Our goal this year was $30,000 between ‘All in the Jeans Day’ and the ‘Laugh Your Pants Off’ benefit.”

The “Laugh Your Pants off” comedy benefit was held at Virginia Theater in Champaign.

“The ‘Laugh Your Pants Off’ benefit was a great success,” Melton said. “There were about 350 people there, and the comedians were very funny.”

The idea behind the benefit was to culminate “All in the Jeans Day” with an event, Melton said.

“We wanted something that would be a ton of fun and kind of a different event that would bring people together for a good cause.” she added.