Press Release

May 5, 2008

Blagojevich administration launches “Pink Potluck” effort to spread the word about the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings  

Governor honors two women for their work in raising awareness of the importance of cancer early detection  

CHICAGO, Ill. – Deputy Governor Louanner Peters and Senior Advisor to the Governor Carol Ronen, both breast cancer survivors, today launched the “Pink Potluck” campaign – an effort to get the word out about the importance of routine breast and cervical cancer screenings. “Pink Potlucks” are an opportunity for women to talk about the importance of early detection and to learn about how all uninsured women are eligible for free screenings and low-cost treatment through the recently expanded Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP).

“As a breast cancer survivor, I can’t stress enough the importance of routine screening. But women close to you, women you know, may not know that early detection could save their life. They also may not be insured and don’t have a way to pay for routine screenings. That’s why I want to encourage women all over the state to get together for a “Pink Potluck” and discuss this important health issue and learn how they can be screened for free,” said Deputy Governor Peters.

Illinois' First Lady Patti Blagojevich kicked off the first “Pink Potlucks” in 2005 by inviting women in congregations and community groups across the state to host the events. Just like a regular potluck, everyone coming to the event brings a healthy dish or dessert to share and the State provides information about getting screened for breast and cervical cancer.

“Women listen to their friends. That is why a “Pink Potluck” is one of the best ways to get the word out about the importance of getting screened early for breast and cervical cancer. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to give your mother, sister or friend the gift of knowledge that can save their life,” said Senior Advisor Ronen.

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich recognized the importance of early detection and expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Caner Program (IBCCP) on October 1, 2007 to become the first and only state to offer free breast and cervical cancer screening and low-cost treatment to all uninsured women in Illinois. The number of women who have been served and screened through the IBCCP continues to grow thanks to Gov. Blagojevich and the expansions he’s made to the program in Illinois.

So far in fiscal year 2008, more than 19,500 women have been served through the IBCCP, which is almost a 20 percent increase over the same period in fiscal year 2007. IBCCP providers have performed more than 12,000 mammograms and 8,700 Pap tests so far in fiscal year 2008, which are a 25 percent increase in mammograms and a 15 percent increase in Pap tests over the same period in fiscal year 2007.

Much of the success of the IBCCP is due to the people on the front lines working to enroll women and make sure they receive these potentially life saving screenings. Because of their hard work and dedication to the IBCCP, Eileen Knightly and Armida Lira with Mercy Hospital are the latest recipients of the Governor’s PATH (People Are Today’s Heroes) Award. The Governor’s PATH Award recognizes those groups or individuals who, through their hard work and commitment, have improved the lives of those in their community and have helped Illinois move forward in the areas of health care, public safety, education and economic development.

Eileen Knightly and Armida Lira work tirelessly to bring more providers to the IBCCP and are available at a moments notice to enroll women and get the word out about this one-of-a-kind program.

Hosting a “Pink Potluck” is not only a way to spread the word about this life saving program, it’s also an opportunity for women to come together to discuss other health issues such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. National Women’s Health Week is May 11-27, 2008 with the theme “Get Inspired, Get Healthy.” The “Pink Potluck” campaign is an effort to inspire women to get together and learn what they can do to get healthy like making sure they get routine screenings, are physically active and eat a healthy diet.

“Early detection of breast and cervical cancer is the key to survival. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent when it is detected early and cervical cancer can virtually be eliminated when detected early. We need to get this message out to all women and what better way than to invite your friends over for a meal and talk about these important issues,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

What better way to save lives and have fun than to host a “Pink Potluck” and gather a group of women for breakfast, lunch or dinner and empower them to stay healthy.

For more information on hosting a “Pink Potluck” and information on free breast and cervical cancer screenings and low-cost treatment (IBCCP) log onto

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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