TEA TIME: Breast cancer fundraiser is Sunday at the Natchez Grand Hotel

Published 3:09 pm Thursday, September 22, 2022

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NATCHEZ — Breast Cancer Awareness month is almost here. In Natchez, it starts at tea time at the Natchez Grand Hotel.

Twelve years ago, Joyce Faye Washington Ivery started a fundraiser in her Natchez backyard called “Hats and Gloves With Tea on the Mississippi.”

This sophisticated, annual event supports purchasing breast exams and some treatment options for uninsured and underinsured patients in the area. It takes place at 3 p.m. this Sunday at the Natchez Grand.

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As a breast cancer survivor, the cause is near and dear to Ivery, she said.

Ivery leads a support group based in New Orleans, where she grew up until Hurricane Katrina prompted her relocation to Natchez.

“I was diagnosed in 1989, 33 years ago,” she said. It was after her full recovery, 28 years ago, that she started the Edna B. and Joyce Faye Washington Breast Cancer Foundation.

“I included my mother’s name because of the support she provided to me during that time,” Ivery said. “Back then, the thought was if you made it to your fifth year, that was it. You are done with cancer. But that is not the case today. We have several members of the support group diagnosed a second and third time. You’re always a survivor and you continue to encourage people to do their mammograms and self-examinations.”

Besides sharing her breast cancer survival story, Ivery created the foundation to make it easier for the uninsured and underinsured to get their exams and the care they need.

Anyone who comes to Merit Health Natchez needing an exam or treatment they can’t afford can ask if there is an option for them to receive the same treatment without coming out of pocket, she said. On Sunday, during the fundraiser and tea, the foundation will be presenting Merit Health with a $10,000 check, giving many of those patients that option.

Some cancer patients develop a condition called lymphedema, which can be treated by wearing a tight compress around their arm. This is one example of things insurance doesn’t always cover that Ivery said she is hopeful her foundation will soon be able to pay for.

The foundations is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that fully relies on community donations and grants.

For a $35 ticket that supports the foundation’s mission, participants will receive tea and refreshments and should dress for the occasion for a chance to win a first, second or third place prize for the prettiest hat or prettiest gloves, Ivery said.

“Not everyone dresses up, but the ones that do go all out,” Ivery said. “The hats are unreal.”

The event is a hybrid one, where guests will be joining Natchez in an online watch party from other live parties hosted in New Orleans, Virginia and one in Holly Springs, she said.

Guests will be entertained by guest soloist Tema Larry; educator and actress, Morgan Groover-Hoben from Natchez; and community activist, Carol Bebelle from New Orleans.

There is also a silent auction fundraiser hosted online through the organization’s website, washingtonbreastcancerfoundation.com.

There, tickets can also be purchased for the tea or donations can be made, she said. the online auction closes at the end of the tea on Sunday.