Comedy used to bring local attention to breast cancer

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Correspondent
Every October Sycamore Shoal's Hospital organizes an event to increase community awareness of breast cancer. In the past, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the hospital has held informative lectures on the disease. However, this year it is taking a much different approach.
Regina May, community outreach coordinator for Sycamore Shoals Hospital, wanted to try something different to get important information about breast cancer across to the public because, she said, lectures on the disease were too depressing.
"I thought maybe we should do something really fun, and comedy and chocolate are both things that people really like and need," May said. "We are hoping this year it will be a fun event that is also educational."
After deciding she wanted to use humor and chocolate as information vehicles, May set out to find a comedian via the Internet. Her search ended when she found Lola Gillebaard's Web site.
Gillebaard writes for the L.A. Times and has been featured at several Los Angeles venues. May said the native of South Carolina brings a southern charm to her comedy.
"It will be a free night of comedy and on the sidelines we will have some breast cancer information," May said.
Gillebaard is an internationally recognized comedian who has overcome many obstacles in life. The 71-year-old credits her sense of humor for pulling her through many tough times.
"Having had 17 major surgeries in my life plus being a cancer survivor, I can honestly say that laughter provided the transportation for me to get where I am today," Gillebaard said.
Gillebaard wore a brace on her leg until she was 12-years-old because of physical disabilities she had from birth. She noticed early in life that people did not notice her limitations because she was so enjoyable to be around.
The comedian has used the sense of humor she learned from her father to propel her through life and hopes that those who come to see her speak learn to see life's lighter side also.
"My message is really simple. I believe that only the truth is funny, and it plays out all around us if we'll just pay attention. Life is a package deal, and it's not all gonna' be fun," Gillebaard said. "I hope the audience leaves feeling good about themselves, truly believing that life can be a party when we discover the humor in it."
"Laughter and Chocolate: Celebrating the Richness of Life", featuring Lola Gillebaard will be held Thursday, Oct. 16 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Elizabethton. There will be information booths set up at the church offering valuable information on breast cancer and early detection.
The event is free and open to the public. To reserve tickets please contact the Health Care Professionals at 800-888-5551.