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High tea offers good company
By LISA BRITTON
Of the Baker City Herald
Gloria Schott greets each woman at the door with a smile and hug, then points them to a back room of the historic Baker City home.
Tables to seat four await, adorned with dishes, flowers and tea cups.
Clanks and clinks float from the kitchen where Dawn Schott and Glenda Randall put finishing touches on the high tea fare.
"We actually learned how to serve high tea on the Internet," Dawn says, pouring hot water into four tea pots.
The tea is called "Ladies in Pink Celebrate," organized for 10 members of the Baker County breast cancer survivor support group.
They share stories and secrets, laughter and tears. Though each woman clad in something pink can speak of a unique experience, each story is woven around the same thread: Breast cancer.
Gloria Schott pushes the present aside, asking everyone to remember a more carefree time.
"I want you all to think back to when you were 8-years-old. The summer that you were 8 what was it you loved to do?" Schott asks.
A few giggle nervously at the task of dredging up these forgotten memories.
"I probably would have been out jumping over I mean, these are huge rocks," says Nan King, spreading her arms out as far as she can.
"I hadn't thought of kick the can' for years," says Becky Hays, Saturday's guest speaker.
Others recall passing lazy summer days in rivers, pools and ponds.
"It had to be 70 degrees before I could go (swimming), so I'd peek outside, waiting for it to be 70," Marilyn Peterson says.
The women fall silent, each lost in their own memories in Rhode Island, Colorado, Oklahoma, and even Baker City.
"You didn't have to worry about much when you were little," Jill Turner sighs.
Becky Hays, the group's guest speaker from Boise, Idaho, begins another story. She describes her battle with breast cancer, from her diagnosis to dealing with doctors.
Her fight against breast cancer ended with a double mastectomy.
Five years ago Hays decided to join the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure in Boise.
Her team named Hikin' for Healthy Hooters began with 80 members.
In 2002, more than 700 walkers and joggers joined the team.
"Next year my goal is 1,000," she said.
Hikin' for Healthy Hooters is now also a non-profit organization, becoming a sponsor for the yearly race and raising money for breast cancer-related projects.
"My goal is to give out grants for people going through treatment. That's where we can make the biggest difference," she said.
Of the proceeds earned from the Race for the Cure in Boise with 10,000 walkers and joggers 75 percent stays in the region to be used for grants and funding for screening and treatment of uninsured women.
Twenty-five percent of the money raised is used by the Komen Foundation for research.
According to the American Cancer Society, 200,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2003 and more than 40,000 will lose their lives.
The support group is here to help, Schott said.
The breast cancer survivor support group meets on the third Thursday each month at 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Health Services.
Currently there are about 12 regular members.
"We would like to grow because we know there are more out there," Schott said.
During the meetings, members talk about new information and medications, and invite special guest speakers every other month.
"Sometimes we break into small groups so we can share a heart," Schott said.
The group is not strictly for cancer survivors they encourage anyone who has just been diagnosed or is battling the disease to attend meetings.
"We need to let them know we're available to help in every way, and that they can make it," Schott said.
In the future, she said they may open the meeting to patients and survivors of all cancers.
This is the only cancer support group in Baker County, she said.
"I think it's important to be with people who are alike," Joanne Thompson said Saturday.
"You think you're the only one like this," added Peggy Payton.
For more information about the support group, call Gloria Schott at 523-7125.