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To Goldberg, cancer had a silver lining

Sandy Goldberg will never forget her mother, Evelyn. Neither will thousands of other women.

Women entering the mammography clinic at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health) are greeted by a plaque and photograph of the late Evelyn Goldberg. They may not be aware of who she is, but Evelyn Goldberg taught her daughter Sandy, a Chicago television personality and clinical nutritionist, to help others, and through a partnership with Sandy Goldberg’s A Silver Lining Foundation, the center has assisted socioeconomically disadvantaged women receive free mammograms and other testing for breast health. The hospital renamed the clinic in 2012 to honor Evelyn Goldberg.

“My mother would always say there’s a silver lining no matter how dire the circumstances,” said Goldberg, a breast cancer survivor who along with Susan Hong, MD, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center survivorship program, and Freddie White-Johnson, MPPA, president and founder of the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation, served on last week’s panel discussion at the Life After Cancer Event that celebrated National Cancer Survivors Day. “My mother and I were extremely close, and I really came to realize her impact in my life after I was diagnosed.”

That diagnosis came in 2000, said Goldberg, who still retains the exact day in her memory – 18 years and 11 days ago as of Friday. After her physician said the word cancer, “I felt like I was hit by a bus.” Two days after the diagnosis she underwent surgery for breast cancer. During her recovery she not only spent a great deal of time thinking about her own health, but that of others.

Having served as a nutrition expert on NBC television for more than 20 years, Goldberg was known throughout Chicago, and she felt she could use that medium to share cancer information with a TV audience. She began hosting a television program with cancer experts as guests, inviting cancer patients to call in to ask questions. It was well-received, but Goldberg thought bigger.

A Silver Lining Foundation was initiated by Goldberg and her husband, Greg Hines, in 2003, a non-profit organization “to ensure dignified, respectful and equal access to quality cancer education and services for all, by creating meaningful partnerships with community, advocacy and healthcare organizations,” says the foundation’s mission. UI Health was an early partner of A Silver Lining Foundation.

In 2006, the foundation established its Buy Mom a Mammogram program at UI Health, providing free screening mammograms and diagnostic testing for uninsured and underinsured women and men. Today, 14 other healthcare organizations have joined UI Health in participating in the program, helping more than 20,000 women (and men). In 2017, funding was provided for 2,593 procedures for 2,015 women, accounting for 24 breast cancer diagnoses.

Earlier this year, A Silver Lining Foundation raised $40,000 at its fourth annual Glitz & Glamour fashion show and luncheon to further support the mammogram program.

When Goldberg began the foundation 15 years ago, she never dreamt it would help as many individuals as it has. But she knows one person who would be happy with her work.

“I know my mother is smiling and it fills me with such joy,” Goldberg said. “Having the mammography center named after my mother is an honor and a testament to her philosophy of life: We are family and we have to help each other through the tough times.”