Column: When life gives you lemons…

“You have breast cancer.”

These are terrifying words every woman fears. These words mark the beginning of a series of life-changing events that are not only physical, but also deeply emotional for women and their families. 

The Pink Lemonade Project is a non-profit organization, created by myself and Dr. Cassie Gabriel in support of breast cancer survivors. Our mission is to offer women with breast cancer support opportunities through the shared experiences of other women. Additionally, we sponsor bi-annual retreats, where survivors have a safe environment to learn and share with others dealing with this devastating disease. 

Feedback provided by retreat attendees highlighted the message that the patients’ significant others would likely also benefit from further education and emotional support through the shared experience of others. Hence, a couples retreat was planned and came off as a great success. Couples retreats are now regular events supported through the Pink Lemonade Project.

We believe that every breast cancer survivor is an individual who can not only benefit from these interactions, but also enrich the lives of other women and men who are living with breast cancer. Our retreats our designed to facilitate these interactions. Aspects of physical, emotional and spiritual healing are all addressed at the retreats.

Our Facebook page (, allows for networking with others to plan informal events, a platform to ask questions and to open up communication channels. It also serves as a forum to advertise upcoming events such as community fundraising events and future retreats. Our website ( is also designed to provide educational resources and a starting point for women who are seeking support services related to living with breast cancer.

We hope to continue to serve the needs of our community by providing continuous support to this population.

Dr. Allen Gabriel is a plastic surgeon at Southwest Medical Group Plastic Surgery in Vancouver – a clinic affiliated with PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Dr. Gabriel can be reached at 360.514.1010.