• 77°

Avon awards grant for breast cancer awareness program

Features Editor

Breast cancer does not recognize county lines.

For that reason, the Coffee County Family Services Center wrote a grant for the Avon Breast Care Fund that would include its neighboring counties of Pike, Geneva and Crenshaw.

Judy Crowley and Lucille Latham of the Coffee County Family Services Center were in Troy Tuesday to announce that the Avon Breast Care Fund has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Coffee County Family Services Center to increase awareness of the life-saving benefits of early detection of breast cancer in Pike, Geneva and Crenshaw counties.

Coffee County also received Avon funding to support its work on this important health issue for the second year in a row, Crowley said.

"The response we received in Coffee County from our breast cancer awareness program during the first year was tremendous," Crowley said. "We realized that other counties that are rural like we are could also benefit."

The breast health program in Pike County will educate area women and refer them to low-cost or free mammograms and clinical breast exams in their own communities.

"The Pike County Breast Cancer Crusade is extremely important because of the high number of women who are uninsured and underinsured," Crowley said. "It is estimated that 827 Pike County women over 40 years old will qualify for free clinical breast exams or mammograms."

However, Crowley said 827 is a conservative number because there are many women who are employed and have insurance but aren’t able to pay the deductible so they don’t go in for breast exams and mammograms.

And, through Pike County Breast Cancer Crusade, hundreds more Pike County women will be provided with life-saving information and education which will facilitate early detection treatment.

"We selected Pike County for inclusion in this grant, not only because of the tremendous need of the women in the county but because of the strong partnerships we have developed here," Crowley said. "The Pike County Extension office began this important work in 1999 and we hope this additional money will allow them to continue the program and reach even more women."

Jeanette Hamm has been hired to provide community education and to be a liaison to the communities regarding breast

cancer issues.

Dean Barnes, county extension agent, said she is very pleased that the Coffee County Family Service Center has included Pike County in the Avon grant.

Last year, the Pike County Extension System was awarded a grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health which provided for health exhibits and education classes about the Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program.

"This program was very successful," Barnes said. "Because of the grant, we were able to give 19 presentations at seven locations and were able to reach a lot of people. Having Jeanette taking the message of early detection 10 hours a week to hard to reach audiences will allow us to reach many more women who need to hear the message and can greatly benefit from the free clinical services available to them."

Initially, Hamm will work from her home but Barnes said she will have space available to her at the Pike Count Extension office.

Hamm will be available to provide education and information to community groups, churches and individuals.

"There is a tremendous need to reach women with information and resources," Hamm said. "We are grateful that Avon shares this mission and has chosen to support our program."

The Avon Breast Care Fund Grant will provide funding through December.

"Then, we will reapply," Barnes said. "The number of women we reach and the number who take advantage of the services provided for them will determine whether the grant will be awarded for another year."

For more information or to schedule a presentation for a group, call Barnes or Hamm at 566-0985.

The Avon Breast Care Fund is made possible with funds raised by the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, a national women’s health initiative. The Avon Crusade raises funds through a series of unique fundraising events called the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day.