MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Sonya Bain was faced with a daunting challenge about 12 years ago. Researchers believe one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Learning she was among them was frightening.
Bain said she is a grateful survivor who deals with side effects from her "dark days" of treatment with the help of a support group. She said despite the struggles, she also feels blessed.
This year, about 40,920 women in the U.S. will die from the disease.
For the joyful breast cancer survivor, attending the Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center's annual Ladies Spa Day in Miami Beach on Tuesday was an opportunity to spread hope.
Bain knows how difficult it is to have to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. She said the "fabulous" event is an opportunity to show patients just "how awesome it's going to be" when they complete treatment.
This is the 15th year that a Mount Sinai's Lila and Harold Menowitz Comprehensive Breast Center's team has coordinated a group of volunteers and donors for the event. It aims to help patients cope as they fight for their lives. It also gives survivors like Bain a sense of purpose and a day of relaxation.
Researchers say survivors who attempt to manage their stress with risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking alcohol, or who become more sedentary, may have a poorer quality of life after cancer treatment. Bain has made the event part of her new lifestyle.
"I have been coming here for the last 10 years," Bain said. "It gets better and better every year."
During the 13th spa day celebration, there was a breakfast, yoga classes, music therapy, hair styling, henna tattoos and full-body massages. This year there were additional services. Gail Brown, an oncology social worker at the center, said the event's goal is to help patients cope.
"We originally called it Women's Day but as the event grew, it evolved into this," Brown said.
On Tuesday, dozens of women enjoyed the services. Newly diagnosed patients mingled with survivors who noticed this year there was also nutritional support, meditation, aromatherapy and art therapy.
Bain, who also enjoys talking to women about the importance of early detection through mammography and physical exams, said she enjoyed celebrating among old and new friends. The other perks included getting her eyebrows professionally shaped and enjoying a massage.
FUN EVENT ON SATURDAY
The Mount Sinai Medical is also co-hosting a Day of Beauty in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Oct. 20 at Macy's at 1777 W. 49th St., in Hialeah. For more information or to register for an appointment, visit the event's Eventbrite page.