Financial assistance available to help offset some costs

NEGAUNEE – Breast cancer patients in the Upper Peninsula who are struggling financially can now apply to receive up to $1,000 in aid for breast care-related bills, biopsies, procedures and ultrasounds.

The Superior Health Foundation recently teamed up with coordinators from six U.P. Health Departments to create the U.P. Breast Health Fund – a financial support program to help low-income breast cancer patients with the out-of-pocket expenses that accompany their illness.

Launched Jan. 2, the fund has nearly $30,000 available for people between the ages of 35 and 64 who fall within the national poverty guidelines and are under- or uninsured.

Much of the money for the fund was raised last October, during the month-long “31 Days of Pink,” a fundraising partnership between SHF and Marquette Area Public Schools to raise awareness for those affected by the disease.

MAPS and other U.P. schools raised more than $18,000 from the sale of pink football jerseys and other merchandise.

U.P. schools will be a crucial part of the fund going forward as well, by participating in future “Paint the Peninsula Pink” campaigns to keep the fund’s coffers full.

Applicants will be reviewed by an eight-person committee comprised of the health department coordinators from the six districts, a member of the Superior Health Foundation Community Needs and Grants Committee and the SHF executive director.

Each of the six health department districts across the U.P. have received $2,500 to disburse equally, and the remaining funds will be given on a first come, first serve basis.

Last year, there were 230,000 new cases of breast cancer in the U.S. alone.

In addition to the Marquette County Health Dept., the Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Dept., the Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department (serving Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties), Dickinson-Iron District Health Department (serving Dickinson and Iron counties), Public Health Delta and Menominee Counties and the Chippewa County Health Department are all participating.

For more information, or to get an application, visit www.superiorhealthfoundation.org, or contact Bobbie Champion of the Marquette County Health Department at 906-315-2620.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.