Beyond pink: Keeping the beat

Lilly Piershale
Lilly Piershale
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The beat against breast cancer, that is. Breast cancer is a disease that doesn’t discrimate. It is the most common type of cancer among women, no matter the race, age, and ethnicity.

One in eight women in the United States, about 12 percent, will develop invasive breast cancer over her lifetime.

The Illinois State Cancer Registry projects 9,400 women in Illinois will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 1,890 will lose their lives to breast cancer this year.

McHenry County Department of Health partners with area healthcare facilities and offers an important program to individuals who have no health insurance.

The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), provided through a grant from the Illinois Department of Public health, offers free screenings to detect breast cancer and cervical cancer among underserved eligible women ages 35 to 64 who are McHenry County residents.

The following services are free of charge to eligible women:

• Office visit for breast and/or cervical exam

• Screening mammogram

• Pap test

• Consultation

• Diagnostic mammogram

• Fine needle aspiration

• Colposcopy, including biopsy


• High-risk HPV panels

• Breast ultrasound

• Breast biopsy.

To be eligible for Treatment Benefits, a person must need treatment for breast cancer or cervical cancer, have no insurance coverage for treatment; be under age 65, be an Illinois resident and be a U.S. citizen or have a legal immigration status.

Since the program was launched statewide in 1995, over 66,000 women have been screened for breast and cervical cancers.

From fundraising galas to walks to shopping to the wearing of pink ribbons and “Think Pink” slogans, October is hailed as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

So how do we sustain the momentum of encouraging patients to beat the odds of cancer with early detection through regular testing?

According to Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, Illinois Public Health Director: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for women. We urge women, during October and beyond, to be proactive in taking steps to lower their risk of breast cancer.”

The top reasons why women decline mammograms include cost, no insurance, high deductibles, inconvenience, pain, fear and confusion regarding mammography safety, as well as recommended screening guidelines.

For more information on these programs, call MCDH at 815-334-0232 or visit You also can contact the Illinois Women’s Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or visit

• Lilly Piershale is the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer program coordinator at McHenry County Department of Health. 

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