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Tea fetes strength, survivors

Staff photo / Lily Nickel Some 250-plus breast cancer survivors and their guests attended the Junior League of the Mahoning Valley’s 27th annual Pink Ribbon Tea and Luncheon on Monday afternoon at Waypoint 4180 in Canfield.

CANFIELD — To breast cancer survivors, the color pink goes far beyond just a fashionable shade — it’s a symbol of strength and hope.

“Pink is powerful,” said Susan Berny, chairperson and founder of the annual Pink Ribbon Tea.

The Junior League of the Mahoning Valley hosted the 27th annual Pink Ribbon Tea and Luncheon on Monday afternoon at Waypoint 4180 in Canfield. Last year’s event was altered into a drive-thru format due to COVID-19 restrictions. Two hundred-fifty five survivors and their guests from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties attended the event that was created by Berny 27 years ago as a way to bring breast cancer survivors together.

“It’s a day of education, and most of all strength. The strength you get from the long journey that you have with breast cancer. It’s one step at a time, it’s a long journey,” Berny said. “It’s just to have a day for breast cancer survivors to enjoy their friends and family and have fun. It’s a day of strength.”

Survivors were able to enjoy the event for free due to generous donations and sponsorships from area businesses, donors and health organizations.

“It’s the 27th year that we’ve had survivors attend this event free of charge, so no survivor is turned away by their income or ability to pay for the event,” Berny said.

This year’s guest speaker for the luncheon was Michelle Apple, a clinical dietitian and three-year breast cancer survivor who established the Apple Breast Cancer Warrior Foundation. Apple started the foundation amid her own fight with Stage 3 metastatic breast cancer as a way to help others. The foundation raises money to support women with breast cancer during their journey.

Berny said it’s important that those battling breast cancer know there are resources available to them such as the ABC Warrior Foundation.

“There’s a lot of help; if you need help paying bills or if you have questions about breast cancer, there is a lot of help out there and don’t be afraid to connect with people,” Berny said.

Speaker and honorary chair Andrea Wood, a breast cancer survivor and publisher of The Business Journal, highlighted strong women throughout history, including those in the room, and echoed the event’s sentiment of strength and togetherness.

“We never know how strong we are until we find our strength, and today we find strength joining together in a common cause; detecting and surviving breast cancer,” Wood said.

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