The Regional Medical Center is continuing to educate and inspire women battling breast cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

The RMC Foundation wants the community to not only be aware of breast cancer and those living with the disease, but to realize the importance of being advocates of their own health.

The power of education and enrichment will be on display during the RMC Foundation's 13th annual Pink Ribbon Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at The Cinema.

The Junior Service League of Orangeburg is presenting the event, and Buck Ridge Catering will provide a gourmet lunch. Brenda Harley of Devin's Flowers is providing decorations for the event.

Sylvia Trimmier and Denise Fleming are co-chairpersons of the 35-member Pink Ribbon Committee that is overseeing preparations for the luncheon.

Mary Taylor, a music educator and performer, will be the luncheon speaker. Taylor, a cancer survivor, uses music and medication to spread her message with the theme of "Love Heals."

Taylor is director and founder of Na Fidleiri, which has been described as one of the most unique ensembles in the country. She founded Na Fidleiri in Charleston in 2000.

The accomplished chamber, orchestral and Irish traditional music performer has been teaching and performing since 1975 with students from pre-school age to the collegiate level.

Trimmier said Taylor also perform at the event.

"She will play violin and fiddle. She's also bringing her daughter, who's singing and a Celtic harpist and a guitarist. So there will be four musicians performing," she said.

Dressy casual attire is required for the luncheon.

"And we always encourage pink. It's my favorite event of the year, just working with the committee and the lovely ladies. I just think the luncheon is a lovely event where women get to socialize, be part of the community and hear a lovely speaker," said Karen Tourville, RMC special events coordinator and longtime Pink Ribbon Committee member.

Trimmier said, "We have the best committee anywhere around because everybody works together so well. Every year has been so unique as far as the speakers and themes. Every one of the events has been special in a different way."

The luncheon, which began in 2005, has raised $473,000 since its inception. All proceeds from the RMC Foundation's Pink Ribbon Fund benefit the RMC's Breast Health Center and also helps cancer patients during treatment and with post-operative needs.

"We're proud that we have that, but we're also happy that we promote awareness. That's very important to us, too," Tourville said.

Prosthetic and mastectomy garments are among the items the Breast Health Center provides to patients.

Frierson said newly diagnosed breast cancer patients also receive a HOPE (hope, opportunity, promise and empowerment) bag. Intended to offer comforts to the patients, the pink bags include items such as a journal, a scarf, socks and a music CD.

Early detection is still touted as the best protection against breast cancer, along with mammograms. RMC has two mammography units at the Breast Health Center and one on its mobile mammography van.

"The mobile mammography unit goes all across this county and Calhoun County. We publicize where it's going to be. Transportation is such an issue for many of our residents. So for us to be able to take it to them in our outlying areas is very beneficial," Frierson said. 

She also shared statistics indicating that breast cancer accounts for approximately a third of all cancer diagnoses in South Carolina, with almost 3,000 cases diagnosed in the state last year. 

"This year, some 4,000 breast exams will be performed at RMC's Breast Health Center," Frierson said, noting that the  Breast Center gets grant funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which provides resources for uninsured individuals.

A capacity crowd of 376 is expected to attend this Pink Luncheon this year, she said.

Pink Ribbon umbrellas, raincoats, aprons and athletic apparel will be among the specialty items on sale at the luncheon. Artwork, Christmas ornaments and crafts will also be on sale.

Heather Bernardo of Heather Joy Jewelry, who is assisted in her jewelry making by Becky Wienges, will also have pink-accented jewelry on sale at the event.

The cost of the Pink Ribbon Luncheon is $60 per person and $500 for a table of eight. Frierson said reservations are required.

For more information, including how to make reservations, call the foundation office at 803-395-2321.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter @DionneTandD.

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Dionne Gleaton has been a staff writer with The T&D for 20 years. She has been an education reporter, regional reporter and currently writes features with an emphasis on health.

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