Piedmont Columbus Regional made a commitment Tuesday morning to continue to raise the bar on cancer care in the area during the 16th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon.
“We will be victorious over breast cancer,” said committee chairwoman Melissa Thomas, who donned a warrior woman costume. “We’re fighting for those who cannot fight. For those we may not know. We’re doing it for the future.”
The event, held at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center, was an opportunity to raise money and awareness for breast cancer services in the community. Proceeds from the luncheon will go toward relocating the Columbus Regional Breast Care Center into the John B. Amos Cancer Center. Organizers were expecting almost 1,200 people to attend the event.
“The greatest message that we hope to deliver here today is that we need our community support to make cancer care the best it can be right here at home in Columbus,” said Aline Lasseter, president of the Piedmont Columbus Regional Foundation. “Philanthropy matters. Philanthropy makes a difference.”
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Studies show that one in eight women, or about 12.4 percent, will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases are expected to be diagnosed. As of January 2018, there are more that 3.1 million breast cancer survivors.
“Every journey is different, and every journey is your own experience,” Zarino Cheves, a breast cancer survivor, said through tears before the event. “There is so much life, so much that you should still accomplish, so much that you can still do after receiving the news.”
Cheves emphasized that women surround themselves with “uplifting people who want to see you be the best person you can be.”
During the keynote address, motivational speaker and humorist Linda Larsen outlined five guidelines for self-care, and later noted the healing power of gratitude, humor and “bringing your happiest self to the party.” When she brings happiness and love to her audience, Larsen said, “I feel it come back to me instantly.”
“We are healing in that moment, we are laughing and feeling joyful and feeling grateful,” she said. “The people who come, the women who come here, they feel grateful to be in such a supportive environment, where people are holding them up.”