The second annual Regional Medical Center Foundation Pink Ribbon 5K brought a multitude of family members, friends and representatives of the community to Edisto Memorial Gardens on Saturday in support of those affected by breast cancer in Orangeburg County.
“We are extremely excited that people see what is going on and they want to be a part of it. Because of our sponsors, we have more than doubled last year’s proceeds raised,” said Eryn Radewitz, RMC Foundation donor relations specialist.
“The girls that work at the Regional Medical Center Breast Health Center do a phenomenal job with the women and men of our community with spreading awareness and making sure that they have an understanding of what is going on, like screenings and how important they are,” Radewitz said.
The job of the RMC Foundation, which manages 14 funds, is to raise money to support the programs.
“The Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer dollars specifically go towards supporting the Breast Health Center, patients at the Mabry Cancer Center who are receiving treatments, to pay for medications and if there are patients that have had to have surgery and need assistance with prostheses or garments,” Radewitz said.
Crystal Fulmer, mammographer at RMC, said, “This disease knows no boundaries: not race, status, age, gender or religion. Statistics tell us that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.”
“There are approximately 6,900 women living in Orangeburg County, so around 860 of those will develop breast cancer based on the statistics,” Fulmer said.
“As I look out among the crowd today, I see that it has tremendously grown since last year. Our community needs this and you are making it possible,” she said.
RMC Foundation Executive Director Margaret Frierson said, “We are so blessed to have all this support.”
RMC President and CEO Charles Williams said, “I think about the strong women in my life, my wife who is here with me today, my daughter who will one day grow to be a strong woman and a mother and a wife.
“You all are the foundation of this country. You are the foundation of the family. Because of the impact of breast cancer to the family, to the country, to the women of this nation, we cannot allow awareness to decrease.”
He also spoke of the hospital’s new Women’s Health Center that has expanded from a clinic with six rooms to one with 12 rooms.
Invited to share her story, Bianca White, a 26-year-old junior at South Carolina State University, impressed upon the attendees that “mammograms, knowing your family history, self-exams and taking your health seriously is so important.”
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“On February 2018, at the age of 24, I was diagnosed with hormone positive stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I do not carry the gene nor does breast cancer run in my family. Stage 4 breast cancer is a cancer that has spread from the breast, does not have a cure and is terminal. Cancer has no age limit. Although I cannot be cured, my cancer can be treated,” White said.
She is the founder of Fight Like a G for B, a blog and community service.
“Last year, Oct. 12, was declared Bianca Tiarra White Day thanks to the mayor of Orangeburg and the Men Against Cancer organization at SCSU,” White said.
She said the recognition motivated her to do more in the community.
“I was already using my blog to spread awareness as well as keep people updated on my journey but I wanted to do more. I have currently raised over $400 to make care packages for those affected by cancer,” White said. She also set up a GoFundMe account for those who would like to contribute to her efforts.
White sought to create a more positive presence on social media surrounding breast cancer.
“The sadness is definitely a part of dealing with cancer, but when you want hope and motivation, and you don’t see that, you automatically think that your life is over,” she said.
“I want people to be inspired and know that their life isn’t over, that there are so many things that they can do. When you have a positive mindset, that helps,” she added.
White, formerly of Anchorage, Alaska, has lived in Orangeburg with her grandmother, Eloise Hart, since 2011.
“She takes care of me. She takes me to my appointments. She does so much for me,” White said.
Candance “Candy Renee” Mack, White’s mentor and dear friend, also came out to lend a hand.
“Even though I’ve been through it five times, when I see someone like her, I think I couldn’t do what she is doing. She is just so inspiring,” Mack said.
Mack was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26 and battled against the disease for eight years. She has been cleared since Feb. 24, 2018, which is her 9-year-old daughter’s birthday.
“Unfortunately, I cannot stop cancer, but I hope seeing my fight brings out the fight in others and lets people know that you do not have to look like what you go through,” White said.
She’s been given a survival estimate of five years.
“I laugh at that now and use it as a tool to see how much I can accomplish in these five years. Time no longer matters, but what you do with it speaks volumes. God, my family and friends play a part in keeping me uplifted,” said the young woman.
“Helping others and meeting other strong women during this journey has kept my head up and given me something to fight for. I know my efforts will not go unnoticed. Thank you for all of your support,” she said.