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Pink Sistas eighth-annual auction and 'Party with a Purpose' helps fund retreats for women living with breast cancer

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Deb Hart, founder of Pink Sistas, hosts retreats for women living with breast cancer at her floating home on the Columbia River several times each year. Last year, 90 women attended one of the organizations three-day getaways, which are offered to breast cancer patients and survivors at no charge.

Finding emotional support when making the journey through breast cancer treatment and survivorship ideally requires a tribe of women.

Or a circle of Pink Sistas.

"Women suffering from breast cancer are obviously very vulnerable," said Deb Hart, founder of the nonprofit Pink Sistas. "Oftentimes they must go through the process with little support and even less opportunity to receive information, education and camaraderie with others going through the same thing at the same time.

"Our mission is to provide women that have had a diagnosis of breast cancer," she added, "and give them a weekend to be whole and to have courage to look at tomorrow with hope."

Hart, an East Multnomah County resident, knows well the road traveled by women with breast cancer — she's a survivor herself. So to ensure women living with the disease don't let it define them, Hart launched Pink Sistas in 2011 as a platform to offer cancer patients and survivors an all-inclusive getaway where they can temporarily leave the world of oncology behind.

"Pink Sista retreats allow breast cancer survivors a weekend that is free from worry and stress," Hart said. "It also gives survivors a chance to connect with others who share in the journey they are walking through and the camaraderie of survivorship."

Hart plays hostess to eight guests in her floating home on the Columbia River during the summer months and at various other locations several times a year. Her three-day retreats are crammed with activities built around fun, healing of mind, body and spirit, and sisterhood. Hart's mission is also to restore her guests' dignity during a time when that well has run dry.

"We teach the girls, through the (retreat), self-esteem," Hart said. "Our goal for the girls is to find a friend in this group. Breast cancer is a lifelong journey. We hope to empower these women with self-esteem and to have someone they trust and love to take along with them on their journey."

While Hart's hospitality is given freely from her … well, heart, she charges her guests nothing to attend. Consequently, Pink Sistas raises funds to support the retreats and activities for the women who attend them.

The eighth-annual Pink in the Gorge auction to benefit Pink Sistas will be held Saturday, May 18, at the Caswell Sculpture Gardens, 902 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, in Troutdale. Doors open with a silent auction at 4:30 p.m. The age 21-and-older event also features beer, wine, cider, food and chocolate. From 7:30-9:30 p.m., the "Party with a Purpose" kicks off with live music by rock cover band Remedy.

Special celebrity guest Todd Hoffman, a Sandy resident and former cast member of the TV reality show "Gold Rush," will chat with guests and be available for photo opportunities.

Tickets for the Pink in the Gorge event are $35 per person or $50 per couple. Deadline to purchase tickets is Wednesday, May 15. They are available at www.Pinksistas.org.

Last year, Hart and her all-volunteer organization hosted 90 women at Pink Sista retreats. It's irrelevant where a woman is in the course of her disease, treatment or recovery, Hart said. It's all about healing together.

"Everyone has a worst — a divorce, a relationship ending — and most of the women who come to these retreats, their worst is the C-word: cancer," Hart said. "(The retreats are) leaving cancer at the dock and having fun."

If you go

What: Pink in the Gorge, to benefit Pink Sista retreats for women living with breast cancer

When: 4:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18

Where: Caswell Sculpture Gardens, 902 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale

Cost: Tickets are $35 per person or $50 per couple. Purchase before Wednesday, May 15

More info: www.pinksistas.org


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