By Lee Hughes
For Peninsula Daily News
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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.
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.