PLAINS TWP. — From cotton candy and bubblegum to carnation and rose, the Grand Ballroom at the Woodlands Inn & Resort was awash in a sea of pink Sunday for a “Pink Tea” to benefit Candy’s Place.
More than 150 attended the annual event.
With hot pink angel wings dangling from her ears, Michelle Perea said she was happy she had enough energy to be there.
Perea, 33, of Edwardsville, was diagnosed in April 2010 with stage 4 breast cancer, which had also spread to her lungs.
After undergoing chemotherapy that summer, Perea said, the cancer had “cleared up.”
Last fall, however, Perea said the cancer came back, this time, in her liver. From November 2012 through March 2013, she endured more chemo treatments.
“In March, everything was clear, but in July, it was found in my bones,” she said.
Perea said she she’s currently receiving treatment and has had to go on disability.
“I have good days and bad. Fortunately, this is a good day,” she said. “There’s a couple of days a week that I can’t get up.”
Perea said she participates in the support groups, yoga, meditation classes and massages at Candy’s Place. The wellness services are offered to the general public for a fee, but are free for cancer patients.
“They help you cope with anxiety and fear,” she said of the employees and volunteers at the cancer resource center. “The people are there to help you get through it.”
At this stage in her journey, Perea said she feels like a “veteran” and offers advice to others in the support group.
“I’ve had a lot of problems with dehydration and (lack of) potassium, so I tell them to drink a lot of water,” she said. “I feel like I’m a good resource for the group.”
“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” said Chris Ostroski, director of Candy’s Place. The event featured seven speakers who are breast cancer survivors.
Ostroski, a breast cancer survivor herself, said the journey from diagnosis to treatment and recovery isn’t the same for every woman and she chose the speakers because each has a different story to tell.
“What’s important to know is that when someone has breast cancer, the course of treatment is not always chemo and a mastectomy,” said Ostroski. “There are a variety of treatment options.”
Guest speaker Mary Lisa Lada, 54, of Larksville, said she had been taking exercise classes at Candy’s Place years before she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in August 2012.
She underwent a mastectomy, chemo and radiation. Lada said she feels great and is now on the Board of Directors of Candy’s Place.
“I feel good, and I attribute a lot of that to Candy’s Place,” she said. “When I walk in, I feel like someone just wrapped their arms around me. It’s my safe house.”