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BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY: Funding for breast health testing needed more than ever

Each of the last five Octobers, the Chicago Wolves and their fans have teamed up to raise money for A Silver Lining Foundation.Dr. Sandy Goldberg, who founded ASLF in 2002 shortly after starting her own successful battle against breast cancer, treasures each and every dollar because it means people who cannot afford breast health testing will receive mammograms and diagnostic care as well as access to breast cancer surgery and treatment.

“This money is a godsend,” Dr. Sandy said. “An absolute godsend.”

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which features the Wolves’ Breast Cancer Awareness Day event on Sunday, Oct. 25, at Allstate Arena, finds A Silver Lining Foundation and Illinois residents more in need of dollars than ever.

State funding of Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) has dried up. This means FQHCs throughout Illinois — and many safety-net hospitals big and small across the Chicago area — cannot be reimbursed if they provide free breast health testing to those in need.

That leaves two choices: Either uninsured and underinsured people go without these crucial tests — or hospitals and FQHCs point them toward A Silver Lining Foundation because they know how Dr. Sandy and her organization respond.

“It’s astonishing, the number of people we’re adding this year,”Dr. Sandy said. “We are easily going to double the number of people we help this year. How we’re going to do it? I don’t know, but we’re going to. How do you tell somebody no? I can’t live with myself.”

That makes the Wolves’ fundraising even more crucial this month. Stick It To Breast Cancer pucks, T-shirts, sweatshirts and tote bags are available at every home game this month — and also available by calling the team’s offices at 1-800-THE-WOLVES.

“I think it’s imperative every year,” said Courtney Mahoney, the Wolves’ senior vice president of operations. “Our fundraising goals continue to go up. Unfortunately, there are still all too many families who are affected by breast cancer. As long as these stories continue, we will continue to have a sense of urgency to raise money and awareness.”

That sense of urgency becomes greatest during the big event on Sunday. Before the Wolves face the Charlotte Checkers at 3 p.m., the players will skate with pink sticks during warmups and the plan is for several players to use their one-of-a-kind sticks during the game. Each stick will be autographed and available during the game for a $175 donation, which supports the cost of a mammogram for those who cannot afford one. Fans who donate for a stick also will get to meet the player who signed it (and take a picture with him) after the game.

“There are people who have no access to lifesaving testing,” Dr. Sandy said. “They have to jump through hoops just to try. For those ASLF funds, the diagnostic rate for cancer is five times the national average because they wait so long to have it done.

“Thank you to the Wolves and their fans. We’re going to need to double our capacity to help people and we can’t do it without you.”