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Memorial Hermann hosts annual In the Pink of Health luncheon and fundraiser

October 12, 2018

A pink- and teal-clad army descended on The Woodlands Waterway Marriott & Convention Center on Friday for Memorial Hermann’s eighteenth annual In the Pink of Health luncheon.

More than 1,200 breast and ovarian cancer survivors, caregivers and supporters attended the county’s largest breast cancer fundraiser, which raises money for women’s health care research in Montgomery County.

The luncheon’s keynote speaker, Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater Scott Hamilton, heads the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, supports the Angel Mentoring Program and is involved with ChemoCare.com — all resources for those undergoing treatment for cancer or have survived it.

“I know we can do better,” Hamilton said. “Our bodies create cancer, so why shouldn’t our bodies eradicate it?”

Hamilton, a three-time survivor of cancer, dedicates his life to reversing the trajectory of cancer and researching new treatment options. Speaking at the luncheon, he said, came naturally.

“Memorial Hermann is a destination for people fighting for their lives,” Hamilton said.

In the Pink of Health was founded by Memorial Hermann in 2001 as a way to invest money into cancer-related community programs in the county for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Through table donations, live and silent auction proceeds and ticket sales, in 2017 the luncheon raised $227,000 for the hospital’s cancer survivor center, Canopy; $66,000 for breast cancer screening provided to low-income women by Interfaith of The Woodlands, $47,000 for The Rose, a breast cancer screening resource center for low-income women and $40,000 for educational materials at the hospital.

“It started out as a small group of women who wanted to raise awareness and funds for women’s health,” luncheon co-chair Tiffany McClung said.

A unique feature of the luncheon, co-chair Cheryl Brady added, all of the money raised by In the Pink throughout the year and at the luncheon stays local to help women in Montgomery County.

The massive effort took a legion of 38 volunteers working since almost last year’s event to create the garden of pink gardenias and lilies crowning the event’s tables — among the offerings at the silent auction: a two-year lease for a convertible BMW 440i and sparkling offerings from Robichau’s Jewelry.

But, McClung said, the luncheon is more than an opportunity to enjoy a good time for a good cause.

For Brady, McClung and Hamilton, the search for new and better treatments for breast cancer hits close to home. McClung’s mother, grandmothers, great-grandmother, countless aunts and many friends have suffered from breast cancer; and though never having suffered from breast or ovarian cancer herself, Brady had a hysterectomy and double mastectomy after she tested positive for the same genetic mutation her aunt had before she was diagnosed with, and died from, ovarian cancer.

Cancer also stuck its dark, twisted fingers in the lives of Hamilton and his family. In 1977, Hamilton’s mother — his biggest fan — was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two decades later, Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer and in 2010 and 2016, Hamilton battled brain tumors, leading him to found the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. The Nashville-base foundation funds research into immunotherapy targeted drugs and precision targeted proton therapy in an effort to improve the quality of life of those undergoing treatment.

The money raised at the luncheon hasn’t been completely tallied yet, but In the Pink of Health continues its year-round effort to curb the deaths of women in Montgomery County from breast cancer.

“It’s directly benefiting the people that live in this community,” Brady said. “The sponsors, partners, everyone who helps us — they can see those dollars go to work right in front of their eyes.”

mrincon@chron.com

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