South Carolina Cancer Community Comes Together at the Governor’s Mansion Complex

For The Ann Tunky Riley Pink Tea Celebrating and Remembering Breast and Cervical Cancer Survivors

October 25, 2019
COLUMBIA, SC – October 25, 2019 – Raising awareness on breast and cervical cancer, over 80 cancer survivors and caregivers gathered with former and current lawmakers for afternoon tea at the The Lace House yesterday. In view of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Pink Tea Event celebrates breast and cervical cancer survivors and remembers those who have lost their lives to the disease.
This year, the community event was named for former First Lady Ann “Tunky” Riley who died from breast cancer in 2008 after decades of fighting the disease. At a time when cancer conversations were not held as openly or publicly as they are today, Riley used her strong voice to encourage women to get mammograms and other lifesaving cancer screening methods – becoming one of the first public figures in the state to speak about her battle with breast cancer.
“In addition to her notable work on education and renovation of the governor’s mansion, Mrs. Riley was admired for her gracious hospitality and warmth,” noted Beth Johnson, government relations director at ACS CAN. “So, it’s very fitting that we got together for tea, the state’s official hospitality beverage.”
Mrs. Riley’s husband, Richard W. Riley, former South Carolina governor and U.S. Secretary of Education, spoke to his wife’s legacy and his journey as her caregiver.
“Tunky, as you know, was very big on education and her responsibilities as First Lady,” shared former South Carolina Governor Riley, reflecting on his late wife’s work in the community. “She felt that it was her duty to help educate South Carolinians about breast cancer prevention and early detection. She felt that she should talk about it and encouraged all women to do what was necessary to prevent the condition.”
House Ways and Means Chairman G. Murrell Smith, Jr. was also present at the event. Recognized by the ACS CAN for his efforts in championing funding for cancer prevention and early detection for uninsured and underinsured women, Smith was honored as a 2019 Legislative Champion for securing state funding to compliment funding received from the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
Educating and inspiring the public, numerous survivors and their loved ones shared their survival stories.
“A survivor is one who chooses life over and over again in spite of their situation” said Kimberly Brigman Driggers speaking boldly of her cancer journey. “Cancer is not a death sentence. For me it was an eye opening experience for me to get busy living and enjoy life and let my story be a road map to success for other warriors who fight bravely every day.”
“I’m thankful to Mrs. Riley for having the insight and compassion to share her personal story many years ago and give hope to people she would never even know, just like this small town girl,” shared Driggers. “Bringing awareness to the forefront is important, and just like Mrs. Riley did for us, her legacy will live on through survivors like myself to encourage others to live their best life and continue to share their own story for future survivors.”
Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death for women. This year in South Carolina, 210 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. More than 4,400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 700 will die from the disease.
“The truth is everyone’s life has been impacted by cancer in some way,” added Johnson. “The Pink Tea event has become a cherished annual tradition in South Carolina by bringing a coveted time of hope and comfort to these individuals – from caregivers, to survivors and lawmakers alike.”
Photos and videos of the event are available upon request. Event sponsors include Pfizer, PhRMA, Amgen, Nephron, South Carolina Oncology Society, Mayo High School Athletics Hall of Fame and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit
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