"I met a woman here, a survivor of 11 years with metastatic breast cancer – that definitely gives me hope," Rose Arevalo told PEOPLE
Maureen Anderson was shopping for wedding jewelry in June 2012 when she got the call notifying her that she had triple-positive stage 3 breast cancer.
“When I got diagnosed, I did not think I had cancer,” Anderson told PEOPLE. “You know how people always think they have cancer like, ‘Oh my god, I found a lump?’ I was the opposite, I thought my lump was just something benign – I was really shocked.”
Three days after her wedding, Anderson underwent a double mastectomy. Her honeymoon was replaced by chemotherapy and radiation.
“It was really bad timing,” she said, “but it was probably like that for everybody – there’s never a good time.”
The bad timing was one of many topics of discussion between Anderson and six other breast cancer survivors that gathered in Los Angeles on Wednesday for a day of pampering, compliments of Ulta Beauty. The event, hosted by Tiffani Thiessen, gave the survivors a chance to take the day off and share their journeys.
“I think for so many women, myself included, you think of yourself last,” Melissa Hoff told PEOPLE. “You have your families, you have your friends and you have your job. Even when you have cancer, you want to put others first. So the opportunity to just take time for ourselves today is just incredible.”
Hoff was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer just two months after her 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.
After her daughter’s diagnosis, Hoff explained, “I was like, ‘No, I couldn’t possibly get diagnosed with breast cancer.’ It’s just one of those things – it’s amazing what a perspective it puts on your life and how you really do see so many blessings in the midst of trials and that’s something our family has experienced for sure. My daughter is my inspiration.”
As Hoff discussed her own family’s heartbreaking year, she brought up the “unimaginable” story of a survivor she met that day, Rose Arevalo. Arevalo was diagnosed with metastatic stage 4 breast cancer at five months pregnant in July 2014.
“Cancer doesn’t discriminate against anybody,” Arevalo told PEOPLE. “I was 26 and I was pregnant.”
“I had a radical mastectomy during my second trimester,” she continued. “Then I was induced into labor at 34 weeks and my son went to the NICU and I started my treatment.”
Throughout the whole trying ordeal, Arevalo remained thankful. “My baby helped me kind of forget what’s going on,” she said.
Arevalo, who is now in maintenance treatment, received the first haircut she’s had since losing her hair to chemotherapy.
“As a mom going through treatment it’s hard to have a day off and it’s hard to get pampered in general so for them to provide this event it’s such a blessing,” she said. “I met a woman here, a survivor of 11 years with metastatic breast cancer – that definitely gives me hope.”
At the end of the day of salon services, the survivors left with new hairstyles and makeup but most importantly, new allies and supporters.
“I keep looking around at these women and yes they have tinfoil on their hair but more importantly, they ve got smiles on their faces,” Thiessen said. “It’s amazing the support you can get when you have your fellow woman next to you.”