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Family service gets #036;75,000 grant for breast cancer program

For the third year in a row, Coffee County Family Services Center received a $75,000 grant from the Avon Breast Care Fund to educate women in Pike, Geneva, Crenshaw and Coffee Counties.

The money goes toward the far-reaching Coffee County Family Service Center program "How to Save Your Life with the Touch of Your Fingers." The program targets uninsured or underinsured women and links them with low-cost or free screening programs.

The program also provides support, referrals and access to services through a number of organizations.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer and the leading single cause of death overall in women between ages 40 and 55.

Most deaths could be easily avoided with annual mammograms or screenings.

Unfortunately, low-income women are unlikely to look for or find such help.

"This is a great program to help us get out into the community and reach those who do not have any health insurance or who are uninsured," said Pike County Breast Cancer Educator Jeanette Hamm at a press conference Tuesday.

Dena Barnes, who works at the Pike County Extension Agency, said they have reached 1,500-2,000 women through health fairs, classes and personal contacts who qualify for the assistance program.

"Many factors, ranging from fear to lack of a doctor's recommendation, keep women from practicing good breast health," Hamm said.

"There is a tremendous need to reach women with information and resources.

We are grateful that Avon shares this mission and has chosen to support our program."

The Pike County Extension Agency, the Pike County Health Department and the Department of Human Resources are working together to implement the program and find those women who qualify.

Since its inception three years ago, "How to Save Your Life with the Touch of Your Fingers" has reached and informed over 12, 430 women and referred almost 1, 145 women for mammograms and clinical breast exams.

Pike County partnered with the Coffee County program two years ago.

For more information about breast cancer and early detection, contact the Extension office at 566-0985.

For more information on the program and its qualifications, contact the Health Department at 566-2860.