Even as Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, ACS CAN will keep working year-round, across the country and with both state and federal lawmakers, to advance the public policies we know will reduce the burden of breast cancer.
Illinois’ Breast and Cervical Cancer Program Funding Restored After Three-Year Budget Battle
Cancer advocates in Illinois recently celebrated a huge win for patients and survivors. After a three-year state budget stalemate, lawmakers finally passed a budget that included full funding for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP). This significant victory was due in large part to the hard work of dedicated ACS CAN staff and volunteers who made sure the program was top of mind throughout budget discussions.
IBCCP offers free mammograms and Pap tests to low-income, uninsured and underinsured Illinois women. During tense budget negotiations between the governor and General Assembly, programs throughout the state ran out of money, including many IBCCP agencies that were forced to reduce hours, waitlist women needing care or close their doors completely.
ACS CAN Illinois advocates knew that without program funding, those in need of screening would likely delay, or go without recommended detection tests – a virtual death sentence for many. IBCCP services are critical to detecting cancer at an early, more treatable stage, and many women did not have an alternative resource for screenings and treatment. Without hesitation, our volunteers got to work, highlighting the stories of women who credited IBCCP with saving their lives.
Breast cancer survivors Gail, Jan, Pam and Sylvia shared their incredible stories with lawmakers and the media, putting a face to a disease that will impact more than 10,000 women in Illinois this year. They met with committee members, joined press conferences and even shared their stories via billboards and YouTube videos.
Our volunteers showed up in full force at the state capitol in Springfield to support these IBCCP survivors and women like them. Nearly 200 cancer patients, survivors and advocates gathered for a Day at the Capitol this year to make sure lawmakers heard their message: “Save IBCCP.”
A three-year budget stalemate can look pretty bleak, but the tenacity and determination of ACS CAN staff and volunteers in Illinois paid off. Thanks to the efforts of our local staff and countless advocates, Illinois fully funded the IBCCP and kept in place this lifesaving resource for many women in the state.