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Breast Cancer Help, Inc. Says Closure of Suffolk County Office of Cancer Awareness and Environmental Assessment Will Affect Cancer Survivors, Provide No Relief for Taxpayers

November 21, 2011

Lorraine Pace, Co-President, Breast Cancer Help, Inc., says the Suffolk County Legislature’s approval of a resolution to eliminate the Office of Cancer Awareness and Environmental Assessment means that the county is doing away with a vital service for breast cancer survivors and the money the Legislature purports to be saved will, in the end, amount to nothing.

On November 9, the Legislature passed an amendment to the 2012 operating budget that eliminates the Office of Cancer Awareness and Environmental Assessment. As part of this measure, four full-time positions will be abolished and one position at the Cancer Awareness office will be transferred to the Department of Health. The Legislature estimates the cost savings at $792,078. A general Legislative meeting is scheduled to be held November 22 at 9:30 a.m. in Hauppauge.

Formed in 2004, the Cancer Awareness Task Force served as a focal point for cancer awareness, health advocates and county agencies to address some of the issues facing Suffolk County relating to cancer and addressed constituent concerns regarding individual cases of cancer, perceived cancer clusters and incidents of cancer in close proximity to environmentally contaminated sites in the process of remediation.

The Office of Environmental Assessment evaluated the potential exposures to contaminants in the environment, especially related to contaminated sites in close coordination with the Department of Health Services, Division of Environmental Quality, as well as with the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation.

“We think it is outrageous that the county would eliminate an office that provides the help and services breast cancer survivors need,” Ms. Pace said. “They are touting this as a cost-cutting measure, but the money the Legislature claims to save is nothing compared to the lives that could be saved, had the Legislature decided not to abolish these agencies that provided important information to Suffolk County residents on cancer awareness. We hope that the county executive vetoes this line item from the budget so that this vital public service is restored to the residents of Suffolk County.”

Incoming Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced that he has launched a website — www.suffolkcountyworksforyou.com — inviting residents to submit suggestions on how to make Suffolk County a better place for homeowners and business owners alike. Those who have a suggestion may visit the website and click on “Share An Idea.”

“I urge every Suffolk County resident to log on to the website now and let Mr. Bellone know that the Office of Cancer Awareness and Environmental Assessment needs to be reinstated,” Ms. Pace said. “This office provides vital services and educational awareness for its residents and it is something that should not be eliminated for the sake of saving a few dollars.”

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Breast Cancer Help, Inc. • 32 Park Avenue • Bay Shore, New York 11706 • Phone: (631) 675-9003