University Park, IL,
17:19 PM

Grandson Remembers Governors State Alumna for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, Governors State University wishes to highlight alumna Ann Marcou, who graduated in 1978 with a master’s degree in therapeutic communications. Marcou’s work with breast cancer patients and survivors is remembered by her grandson, Mike Mireles in the following unedited Facebook post:

"With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share with you a little bit about the co-founder of the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, MY GRANDMA, ANN MARCOU.

During the time that she was studying for her Masters Degree in Therapeutic Communications at Governors State University she found a lump in her breast. Having already gone through multiple biopsies for benign lumps, she was shocked when she came out of surgery to discover she had undergone a mastectomy.

My grandma was encouraged by her friend at GSU to seek out Mimi Kaplan, a campus librarian, who was experiencing the same distress. After feeling relief and support after that first conversation, it led them to seek out about a dozen other breast cancer survivors and invite them over for coffee at the Park Forest YWCA. When the dozen women showed up for coffee, Ann and Mimi knew that there was an unmet need for this kind of help.

In 1978, my grandma and Mimi  (Kaplan) co-founded Y-ME by advertising my grandma’s phone number as a hotline that breast cancer victims could call for comfort and information. A year later, the number of calls grew too much for my grandma’s phone which she had set up on a separate line in the house, hooked up to a red telephone.

The YWCA gave Y-ME office space, but then the organization grew and relocated to Homewood, and later moved to its Chicago headquarters. By the time Mimi Kaplan died in 1983, they had already provided 1,000 women with information and counseling. In 1989, Y-ME set up a 24-hr, toll-free hotline, staffed by trained peer counselors who were breast cancer survivors. It had interpreters for 150 languages!

My grandma retired as its counseling director in the 1990s. During that time Y-ME received about our 40,000 calls a year, helping women to receive free mammograms, wigs, and prosthetics who did not have the financial resources. You may have even taken part or known somebody who ran/walked in Y-ME’s Annual Mother’s Day Race in downtown Chicago.

At age 72, my grandma passed away on Nov. 6, 2004. She had a fire about her! She inspires me because it goes to show that when your purpose for what you do in life is bigger than you, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

To Grandma,I aspire to leave my mark on this world by positively impacting as many people as you!"