A “Woman’s Issue” from a Man’s Prospective
Ed Huller is a member of the Board of Directors, for the Antrim County High Tea for Breast Cancer Prevention. He offers the following overview of both the organization and his prospective, on what is primarily considered a woman’s issue, breast cancer prevention.
What is ACHT?
The Antrim County High Tea for Breast Cancer Prevention is a local community effort with the goal of ensuring that county residents become educated about breast cancer prevention and have access to medical screenings and mammograms. It was formed in 2004 and has raised over $48,000 to date which includes more than $20,000 raised this year.
Why are you involved?
Unfortunately most of us have some personal story or connection to this disease. Two local women, Dee Lynch and Jane Van Etten, saw a need and in 2004 decided they wanted to do something to make a difference. As the community response began to grow the founders realized they needed a more formal structure to manage the programs and finances. I joined when the initial board of directors was put in place and we received our 501c3 charitable trust status.
What should men know about breast cancer?
Men should be aware that while breast cancer is predominately a female disease, it can also attack men, who represent about 1% of the incidents. So be aware of how to detect it. It’s also vitally important for men to be supportive of the women in their lives and encourage them to get annual screenings. Women, who are often the primary caregivers to their family and friends often overlook their own needs. Those trying to manage tight family budgets are quick to forego their own health care needs in lieu of others. So guys, we need to step up and remind the women in our lives how important it is that they take care of themselves as well. Make sure they are aware of the importance of early detection and if insurance coverage is the problem, that’s where we can help.
What kind of help is available?
Well, first there are several state and federal programs which will provide testing and support for women and the best place to find out about them is by calling the Health Department of Northwest Michigan which has offices in Bellaire and Mancelona. We have partnered with them to help make sure we exhaust all available government funding before utilizing the monies we’ve raised. We have a lot of folks in the county with either no insurance or inadequate coverage.
We have also established a fund with Munson Medical Center to cover clients who, because of age, income or other reasons may not be eligible for coverage in one of these government programs.
In addition, we created a fund administered by the Health Department to cover certain related medical expenses in addition to the actual tests.
We provide help in terms of education and awareness throughout the county. We distribute brochures and literature explaining what people should know about breast cancer and how to detect it. We have a group of people who go out to our schools, businesses, churches and community groups to speak and educate. There are also individuals who can help address individual concerns and questions and help get them linked up to the professional resources they need.
How can others help support these efforts?
We really have had tremendous support from local businesses, organizations and individuals. This is an all volunteer effort so we always need people who can give us their time and skills in support of the cause. The fact that all of our funds are used to directly support people living in Antrim County distinguishes us from many other efforts. There are no national offices or programs to support and many of our donors have indicated that this focus helped persuade them to support this effort from amongst the many requests they get each year.
We have a few examples of local businesses working with us to share a portion of their proceeds from certain events or sales and we want to find more.
We hope area businesses will invite us in to talk to their employees and families. We need community groups to help create opportunities for us to get the message out to as many as possible. Without a hospital or other medical infrastructure in place this county has historically failed to fully utilize the resources available to us. We don’t want this to happen ever again – that’s why education and awareness will be a big part of our focus in the future.
Health Department of Northwest Michigan: phone 1-800-432-4121
Antrim County High Tea for Breast Cancer Prevention: