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Nearly 300 breast cancer survivors gather in Hagerstown

October 10, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

More than 270 breast cancer survivors gathered Wednesday at Four Points Sheraton for a Celebration of Life survivors party hosted by Breast Cancer Awareness of the Cumberland Valley.

Members of the organization look forward to the annual party because it's one of the rare events the organization hosts that's purely a celebration, said Kathy McCann, board vice president.

"It's not about treatment. It's not about fundraising. It's about having fun," McCann said. "It's just nice to feel pretty and go out."

As survivors arrived, they received pink carnations donated by Kamelot Florist and tickets for door prizes. Inside the ballroom, they dined by candlelight at circular tables where many of the women seized the opportunity to catch up with friends they don't see often.

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Others, like Peggy Kershner, 63, of Hagerstown, were there for the first time hoping to make new friends who could relate to their experiences and outlook on life.

"I'm amazed," Kershner said. "I've never dreamed there was something this large."

More than 560 breast cancer survivors signed the 2007 survivors signature page printed in Wednesday's Herald-Mail.

"It's very encouraging for newly diagnosed patients to know there's lots of life after this disease," said Janet Lung, the organization's community liaison.

Monda Sagalkin, 64, of Sharpsburg, said she felt fortunate to have found out about the group after being diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer two years ago. Sagalkin said she's made friends with other survivors and started a monthly knitting group for breast cancer survivors.

"I think once a person's survived a disease like breast cancer, you just have a warmth toward other people and go out of your way to be helpful and kind," Sagalkin said.

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