SIH News

 Women with breast cancer getting help thanks to $250,000 grant

Southern Illinois Healthcare has been selected to receive a $250,000 grant from the Avon Foundation to upgrade its mammography system and employ an Avon Breast Health Patient Navigator (BHPN) to work with underserved women. The grant was one of six awarded at the close of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago 2006 and is a part of the Avon Foundation Supporting the Safety Net program.

A woman with breast cancer needs excellent care and a cure, not a hassle trying to negotiate a maze of services. The Avon Breast Health Patient Navigator is a new position made possible by the grant to help women navigate their way through treatment.

For many women, personal issues such as lack of insurance, transportation, child care, financial resources or language barriers may keep them from getting needed breast health care or interfere with treatment. Breaking these barriers and reaching the underserved is a critical part of the missions of both Southern Illinois Healthcare and the Avon Foundation. The new grant will assist SIH to meet those women's needs.

The Avon Breast Health Patient Navigator will coordinate community education classes about breast health, breast self-exams and the importance of screenings. Donna Crow, RN, a breast cancer survivor and longtime crusader for breast health, has been appointed to serve as Avon BHPN.

"The Avon grant is a tremendous boost for southern Illinois," said Crow. "It will open up avenues through improved technology with digital mammography and by providing breast health education to the community and support to women who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families."

Jennifer Badiu, administrative director, Cancer Care Services and The Breast Center, accepted the grant in Chicago. "I was honored to accept the check at the Avon Walk Chicago closing ceremony on behalf of the underserved and underinsured women of southern Illinois. Hearing 'thank you' from the 237 survivors present was a career high and a blessing to our cancer program," she said.

"This grant is due to the efforts of those who participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago in early June," said Badiu. She also said nearly 3,600 people participated in the walk, which raised a record-setting $8.2 million.

The $250,000 grant will also help to improve the mammography system at SIH, including software upgrades to assist with the transition from film to digital mammography at both The Breast Center and the Women's Diagnostic Center. Digital mammography can reduce the time to process screenings from often an hour to less than thirty minutes. It can also give doctors the ability to detect cancers earlier than currently possible because of clearer images with higher resolutions. The Avon Foundation grant will also help to provide child care and transportation service to women receiving screening or breast cancer treatment.

The Avon Foundation, an accredited 501(c) (3) public charity, was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and their families. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade launched in 1992, and Avon has supported breast cancer programs in some 50 countries and through 2005 raised more than $400 million worldwide to advance access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer.

For more information through SIH call 866-744-2468. For more information on the Avon Foundation visit