CHICAGO – State Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin, D-Chicago, is recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness of how health care disparities, including those caused by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget crisis, have made breast cancer a serious concern in African-American communities.
“Access to health care is something that everyone needs to have, no matter where they live or what their income level is,” said Conyears-Ervin. “Early detection is extremely important for a woman to overcome breast cancer, but too many working women are unable to visit their doctor because they cannot afford it. We have a responsibility to provide all women with continuous access to the breast cancer screenings that could save their lives.”
A report by the Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force found that black women in Chicago were dying from breast cancer at a rate 62 percent greater than white women. The task force credited services like the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) as key to early detection and treatment, but throughout his nearly three-year budget crisis, Rauner targeted the program for especially severe cuts, disproportionately denying care to African-American women in need.
Conyears-Ervin worked this summer to pass a bipartisan budget that ends the governor’s crisis and reverses Rauner’s extreme cuts to breast cancer screenings and treatment for low-income women. Conyears-Ervin’s budget provides over $13 million to IBCCP. About 7,000 working women were unable to receive screenings during Gov. Rauner’s three-year budget crisis, but now, due to Conyears-Ervin’s support of the budget, those women will once again be able to receive life-saving care
“Black women in Chicago have a right to receive breast cancer screenings just like every other woman in the state, but they have not been able to receive that necessary care,” said Conyears-Ervin. “For women to fight this disease, money for screenings and education has to be invested into communities like ours, and it is unacceptable that my neighbors were unable to receive care for three years because one man is trying to destroy the middle class.”
Even though funding for IBCCP has been restored, there is still a disparity between breast cancer diagnoses and deaths between black and white women in Chicago. Conyears-Ervin is committed to finding more ways to increase access to breast cancer screenings for women in her community. She is urging local women to call 1-888-522-1282 (1-800-547-0466 TTY) for more information about the program.