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START NOW Breast Health Services Program Receives $38,000 Grant from Avon Breast Health Outreach Program

February 22, 2016

The Avon Breast Health Outreach Program has awarded a $38,000 one-year grant to the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation (SIHF) START NOW Breast Health Services Program. START NOW’s focus is to increase awareness of the life-saving benefits of early breast cancer detection and increase breast health services to uninsured and underserved women in St. Clair, Madison and Clinton Counties.

This is the seventh year that START NOW has received funding from the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade in recognition of its excellence in increasing breast health importance, targeting and reaching the more at-risk population, and reducing the timeline of services. Since 2008, START NOW has reached more than 6,210 women with information about the importance of early breast cancer detection and has referred almost 2,900 women for mammograms and clinical breast exams.

START NOW is a community-based breast health navigation program, culturally designed to adapt to the social determinant of health as well as the health disparity of the women it serves. START NOW educates women at both SIHF’s health centers and its affiliate hospital, Touchette Regional Hospital, and refers them to low-cost or free mammograms and clinical breast exams in their own communities. The dedicated START NOW team provides a complete continuum of care with education, support and navigation of treatment, beginning with outreach through five years of survivorship.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, 9,570 new cases of breast cancer will be detected in Illinois this year, and 1,650 lives will be lost. While advances have been made in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure, early detection still affords the best opportunity for successful treatment. Programs such as START NOW help ensure that all women, including the poor and medically underserved, have access to early detection information and options.

“We are proud that the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade shares our mission and has chosen to support our program,” said Debra Custer, Program Manager with START NOW. “With these funds we will be able to continue to provide breast health services to women we serve, with the goal in mind to increase awareness and reduce identifying late staged breast cancers.”

For more information on START NOW, please call Debra Custer at 618-332-6133.

Since 1993, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade has awarded more than 1,800 grants to community-based breast health programs across the United States, including START NOW. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade awards funding to beneficiaries ranging from leading cancer centers to community-based grassroots breast health programs to support breast cancer research and access to care. Many programs are dedicated to educating underserved women about breast cancer and linking them to early detection screening services. Visit for more information.

The Avon Breast Health Outreach Program is administered by Cicatelli Associates Inc. to support community-based, non-profit breast health programs across the country. The Fund’s National Advisory Board selected START NOW as one of 56 new grant recipients nationwide in the 2016 cycle of Avon Breast Health Outreach Program grants. These organizations were chosen based on their ability to effectively reach women, particularly minority, low-income, and older women, who are often medically underserved.