Breast cancer support event sports 'mad' hats, much tea [ *** GALLERY *** ]
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Lee Hughes/for Peninsula Daily News
Members of the Olympic Medical Center Women's Cancer Support Group pause at the 15th annual Mad Hatter's Tea at SunLand Golf & Country Club on Friday. The group, who refer to themselves as Women Inspiring Nurturing and Giving Support, or WINGS, are, from left, Patricia Ossterberg, Sky Heatherton, Sherilyn Seyler, facilitator Victoria Jazwic, Marnie Fiamengo, Fran Streva, Christie Wilson and Berit Guerin.
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Berit Guerin of Sequim sports a hat she calls “Chemo Brain.” Gurin finished chemotherapy treatment in July. “I’m feeling new finally,” she said. Photo by Lee Hughes/for Peninsula Daily News.
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Jamie Goodwin of Sequim listens to a speaker while wearing a hat she calls “A Year in Memories,” illustrating a 12-month period in which she endured a series of blessings and tragedies, from the death of her best friend to three weddings. Photo by Lee Hughes/for Peninsula Daily News.
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A capacity crowd of 200 cancer surviors, their friends and family, and those currently undergoing treatment gather at SunLand Golf & Country Club for the 15th annual Mad Hatter's Tea on Friday aftenoon. Photo by Lee Hughes/for Peninsula Daily News.

By Lee Hughes
For Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM —The 15th annual Mad Hatter's Tea featured outrageous hats and teacups while providing community support, embraced by a capacity crowd of 200 with much laughter and a few tears.

All of those who gathered at the SunLand Golf & Country Club on Friday, a group of mostly women with a smattering of men, were there to recognize those fighting a common enemy: breast cancer.

Jan Kummet, Mad Hatter's Tea chairwoman, set the tone from the start.

“The first year, I thought we were going to just sit around and talk about cancer, but look at this,” Kummet said, pointing to attendees and their myriad, and in some cases outrageous, hats.

“Next year's invitation will include a no-mascara warning,” she said, wiping away tears.

The annual event is intended as both a gathering of survivors and an educational effort for those in treatment, as well as a remembrance of those who have died of the disease.

One of those undergoing treatment is Sherilyn Seyler of Port Angeles, who moved along the luncheon buffet line wearing what she called her “Smiling Daisy” hat, complete with smiling white-and-yellow fabric flowers.

Seyler, who has fought breast cancer since March, offered this advice to those enduring a battle with cancer:

“While going through treatment, do something you love to stay yourself,” she said.

In addition to support and education, the tea also raises money for organizations involved in fighting cancer, Kummet said.

Donation recipients

This year's recipients were the Olympic Medical Cancer Center's Patient Navigator program and Planned Parenthood's mobile mammography program.

Each organization was presented with a $2,000 check during the luncheon.

The mobile mammography program serves outlying communities across the North Olympic Peninsula.

The Olympic Medical Cancer Center's Patient Navigator program — which is financed by the Olympic Medical Center Foundation and donations — guides cancer patients through the process of cancer treatment while providing financial resources to those in need.

It is open to all who are battling cancer, whether or not they are OMC patients, said Susan Clementz, OMC patient navigator, who can be phoned at 360-582-2845.

Origin of tea

The Mad Hatter's Tea began in 1998 to support Kummet's close friend Jan Chatfield, who before she died of cancer had been forced to wear hats because of hair loss while undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

The tea has been continued in her honor.

Her sister, Marsha Chatfield of Sequim — also a cancer survivor — attended the tea Friday.

“I loved her so much,” Marsha Chatfield said.

“She was everyone's friend.”

With her was Shirley Sutterlin of Sequim, a founding member of the Mad Hatter's Tea, who called Jan Chatfield her best friend.

A slogan to live by

Sutterlin recalled her friend's slogan, something she continues to live by: Health is your wealth.

“Value what you have,” she said.

At 132.4 occurrences per 100,000 people, Washington state has the fifth-highest occurrence of female breast cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To put the disease into perspective, Kummet invited attendees who have had or know someone who has had breast cancer to stand.

There was hardly a chair left filled.

“This is why we're here, ladies,” she said.

Last modified: October 13. 2012 5:27PM
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