Circle of Hope’s annual afternoon tea, with this year’s theme being Royal Tea, provided a customizable experience on Saturday in the royal courtyard — the Canyon Country Community Center.
Tiaras and crown balloons filled the banquet hall, as hors d’oeuvres, tea sandwiches and desserts were served. Patients shared their experiences regarding the center’s dedication to supporting each person, while a silent auction also took place simultaneously.
According to Circle of Hope’s website, “Proceeds from this event will go to further Circle of Hope’s mission of providing emotional, financial, educational and supportive services to those diagnosed with cancer in the Santa Clarita Valley.”
Support group facilitator Alison Lindemann discussed Circle of Hope’s dedication in not only fundraising for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but also in providing relief for various types of cancer.
“Our focus is in honor of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’re celebrating survivorship,” Lindemann said. “We’re raising funds for our organization. Even though this event focuses on breast cancer, Circle of Hope represents all cancer — men, women, all stages. We provide emotional, educational and financial support for people in Santa Clarita going through a cancer journey.”
This year’s twist includes honoring everyone who supports Circle of Hope, including volunteers, practitioners and even clients.
Beth Jenkins, a client, reflected on her experience with Circle of Hope in a speech she gave to the room of attendees.
“I saw a pamphlet for Circle of Hope — I hesitated, irrationally feeling that going to this program was somehow making this all too real,” Jenkins said. “[Eventually] within the community of other cancer survivors, I was able to take it easy on myself and be patient as I got stronger. Most importantly, I was recovering with compassionate others, who had no need for me to wipe my hands and say it’s all over now. Let’s move on — be tough.”
The nonprofit, founded in 2004, is celebrating not only its 19th year of helping local cancer patients, but also fundraising with its annual tea, which started in founder Colleen Shaffer’s backyard.
“Twenty-five years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Three years later, I was told I had six months to live. The cancer had spread and became metastatic, which means it spread from the breasts all the way down to my spine,” Shaffer said.
While Shaffer is still seeking treatment, she’s ensuring that clients come free of any financial, and perhaps mental, worry, given that she empathizes with their experiences.
“We have classes, we have support groups, we have massage, exercise classes, yoga, all geared for cancer patients,” Shaffer said. “If nothing else, we’re there to listen. Because you know what? We’re patients. We’ve been on that side of the fence. We understand what you’re going through.”