Shannon Goddard says life was simpler and happier before she was diagnosed with cancer, even when she was a student studying to be an Engineer Technologist and a single mother to a two-year-old daughter. Life was about raising her now 10-year-old, figuring out relationships, and working for a small oil and gas company in Calgary, AB.
"I was on a good path both professionally and personally," she said.
Then, in January 2012 at the age of 31, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
"I entered chemo less than a week after I found out I had cancer...It was hard to move into my parents' house part-time as I learned to deal with the lack of control in my life. It was unbearable to not being able to be there for my daughter like I used to when I was healthy. It stalled my life," she said. "Then I started processing that I had cancer and all that it entailed. It was (and still is) a lot to process. The hardest thing to think about is the fact that the treatment might not work; I might not be there to watch and help my daughter grow in to the beautiful young lady I know she will be."
Shannon says she struggled with the expectation that she would be able to bounce back to her old routine when treatment was over. Attending Localife Calgary events helped her recognize how much she needed support from her cancer peers.
She said, "YACC came into my life at just the right time. I was just coming out of a very confusing time in my recovery, but was motivated to get to a better place. I have an amazing support system around me, but I had realized that they would never fully understand as they have not had cancer. After just one night with a handful of survivors and their supporters, I felt rejuvenated."
That feeling was amplified after she attended Retreat Yourself Alberta at Lake Louise from April 18-22, 2013.
"The Retreat was like a Localife event, but tenfold. We were in a safe environment that let us dive into the real issues we were all dealing with on different levels. Everyone let their barriers down; there was no judgment, just understanding. There is something healing about telling your story and holding value to it. There is something inspiring about listening to others do the same. Getting to know people on a real level is something we rarely get to do as adults," she said.
"Then we laughed together—the full body laughs, the ones that are made of pure joy—the most healing medicine of all. It is an experience that I will always hold close to me," she said.
"The Retreat has been a true gift. I have made new friends and the experience has helped me shed light on my existing relationships. I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the supporters around me. I feel like I have some control over my life. Bringing everyone’s stories and insights with me has made me stronger. Though cancer will always be part of my story, it holds less power of fear over me.
"Thank you YACC and to every single generous person who made Retreat Yourself possible!"
Posted on May 08, 2013 - 03:07 PM by angie
I welcomed the opportunity when asked to write a recap about my first experience at Retreat Yourself Alberta (April 18-22, 2013), but as I sit here staring at my computer, I realize just how difficult it is to put into words what I experienced and how I felt. Somewhere in between the awkward small talk on Thursday and the joyful, teary-eyed goodbyes on Monday, a magical transformation occurred.
Our group gathered one by one at the Holiday Inn Calgary airport. The room was filled with fresh muffins, coffee, and round tables covered with art supplies. As retreaters arrived, they were given a welcome package and a blank name tag to decorate to occupy their time while they waited. Once everyone arrived, we packed up our luggage and wonderful muffins onto our bus from Southland Transportation. With the peers and retreaters on the bus, and facilitators packed into a van, we headed on our way.
Once everyone arrived at Lake Louise Inn retreaters took time to settle in and meet their roommate while we set up the main meeting space. When everything was ready to go, we met for dinner. Our meals were served buffet-style in the main dining room, which was set with two long tables for our group; it was a great atmosphere. We all made our way to the meeting space after dinner for our opening circle. I cannot imagine how everyone felt walking into that room for the first time as I was nervous myself. We spent the next two hours introducing both the weekend and each other. The emotions I felt as we went around this circle were indescribable. Everyone seemed a little hesitant, but I could already tell what an inspiration they were, even if they hadn't realized it yet. To hear the stories of each brave, young survivor is incredible. Since it was a long day of travel and emotion, we called it an early night and everyone headed to bed.
I think one person braved a leftover muffin that morning, but the rest of us headed to an incredible breakfast buffet. I think I ate enough for the day each morning! We did a quick check in with the group after breakfast and then headed into our first session of the day: a small group discussing on relationships.
Once we reconvened after a snack, two of our peer supporters, Colin and Ashley, shared their stories with the group. Like many of the survivors in our community, they are two strong individuals whose stories will resonate with you for a long time. It was wonderful to see how far they have come since before their diagnosis.
We had a few hours to ourselves during the afternoon. One of our wonderful facilitators, Scott, offered a yoga session during this time, which I heard was fabulous; jetlag was catching up to me at that point.
After free time we met again for a second small group discussion around coping with emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Following dinner we had our final session for the day on storytelling which was led by one of our facilitators, Mikey. He started with discussing how to face those awkward moments where you run into someone and they ask the big question, "What are you up to these days?" He joked by saying he would respond "Oh, a bit of chemo, a bit of radiation. How about you?" This got a chuckle out of the group but it was also a reality that most of the group were facing. I found this session to be very eyeopening and judging by the comments from the group, this was one of the best sessions of the weekend.
We finished the night with a bonfire. And you know what bonfires mean--S'mores!
This happened to be my birthday, and I cannot think of a better way to have spent it. Waking up in the mountains and being greeted with warm wishes was an amazing start to the day. During our morning check in, Vicky, one of our peer supporters, discussed the talent show happening Sunday evening. She decided it would be a good idea to demonstrate a suitable talent so she chose to juggle the now hardening muffins. Needless to say, it gave us a few laughs that morning.
Following our check in, we broke into small groups for the toughest session of the weekend: fear of recurrence. This is a tough topic, as you can imagine, but with great facilitators and retreaters, I think everyone took a lot of positive things out of this session.
Following this, we had a full group session on healthy living.
We were lucky to have such a well-rounded group of facilitators. Karine, who's background is in social work, touched on the topic of anxiety. Lindsay, who works in Spiritual Health, discussed how to find your inner spirit, whether it is through God or an activity in your life that you can relate to. Lastly, Bonnie, who works as a personal trainer, and Vicky discussed simple ways to stay physically healthy. They provided the group with simple tips that everyone could relate to like "eat real food" and "move more."
After yet another delicious buffet, we had free time with the option to go to Lake Louise. Just about everyone decided to head to the lake, and I was beyond excited for this since it was my first trip to the mountains and Lake Louise. Despite the fact it was -14 degrees and snowing each day, I didn't consider that the lake would be frozen and covered in snow. (It is moments like this that I am thankful for my blonde hair.) Nonetheless, it was beautiful and breathtaking. I found this trip to the lake interesting as I watched our group mingle. Retreaters were not paired off with their supporters or roommates, but with whomever was close by. Some people poked through the shops, some walked along the trails, while others just sat and absorbed the beauty. It was great to see everyone finding not only their own comfort but comfort in connecting with those like them. All in all it, was a great trip to the lake and I will definitely make time in my life to head back there during the summer months to see the lake in all its beauty.
Once we returned to Lake Louise Inn, we tackled our forth and final topic: Reintrajectorization, or finding your "new normal." Instead of the typical small group session, we explored this topic through art. With a table full of supplies, everyone found their inner five-year-old and created an art piece to represent their ideas on getting back to your new normal. After dinner we each took time to share our pieces. The analogies that came through art, whether they were initially intended or not, were incredible.
After a fun but long day it was time for some laughs. People were welcome to head to bed if they were tired, but just about everyone participated in game night. Popcorn, which is a YACC favorite, was played by 16 people while just about everyone else cried in laughter on the sidelines. All in all, this was a fantastic day.
The theme of the day was transitioning back into your life. We started with a short video that was filmed 60 years ago, yet provided an accurate analogy to how we all felt. We then heard from Vicky and the dynamic duo, Mike and Bonnie, about how they transitioned from life before cancer, to life with cancer, to life after treatment. Both stories were unique and inspiring in their own way.
Following lunch, survivors had some free time while the facilitators, peers, and staff worked on the closing of the day. The closing circle was emotional, but in a completely different way from the opening circle. All the hesitation and fear was gone and what was left was an overwhelming sense of connection between the group. Each person was given a rock with a name of another retreater on which they were to write one word to describe the person. We then took time sharing our words, the meaning, and what were were going to take home from the Retreat.
Before heading to this Retreat, I assumed this transition day was needed for survivors to take what they learned and think about how they would implement those ideas into their life. While this was indeed the focus of the day, I realized that I had some thinking to do as well. I woke up Sunday morning with the realization that I had been given a gift throughout the weekend. The first thing I realized was that everyone needs to take time in their lives to sit and think, to clear their heads, and to evaluate all that has happened to date. For me, this was one of the first times I had done that. It took organizing a re-energizing event for survivors to realize that everyone needs to get away and re-energize themselves sometimes. The second part of the gift was to interact and get to know 21 strong young adults with a perseverance like I had never experienced before. I feel honored to have met each and every survivor.
Sunday evening was about having fun and spending time together. Our peers put together a talent, or "not so talented," show. Some of the talents included a Madonna-inspired highland dance, piano duets, funny stories, inspirational quotes, videos, and more. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of talent that was displayed that evening.
Some other "talents," like an impromptu Chubby Bunny challenge, were a little less appealing. For those of you who don't know, Chubby Bunny is a challenge to see how many marshmellow one can fit in their mouth and still manage to say "chubby bunny."
The talent show concluded with a slideshow I worked on throughout the weekend. After the slideshow everyone took turns taking pictures, exchanging information, and writing uplifting messages on each other's shirts. The event came to a close with a room filled with laughter, love, and some very stale muffins!
Posted on Apr 29, 2013 - 10:33 AM by angie
Joel sat down with us at Survivor Conference 2010 to tell us his cancer story. Here is what he had to say about his time at Retreat Yourself 2010 at Edenvale in Abbotsford, BC.
We're heading back to Edenvale this year for Retreat Yourself British Columbia. If you would like an experience like Joel's, or if you just want more information, head over here for application forms and more details.
Posted on Feb 05, 2013 - 12:09 PM by angie
We know some of you have a few questions you would like to see answered before you submit your application for Retreat Yourself 2013, so here are some quick FAQs to help you decide. Please remember spaces are assigned on a first come, first served basis, so don't delay!
Getting to share and connect with other people who get what you're going through makes a big difference!
We encourage you to attend a Retreat closer to where you live. That way, travel is not as expensive, and also not as tiring.
The Retreat completely free (food, accommodation); all you have to pay for is the cost of your flight to the nearest major city (Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver). We have some travel assistance available if money is an issue for you at the moment.
We pair people in double rooms based on the age, diagnosis, and similarities. You will not be paired with your supporter. Sharing a room with someone who understands your journey is a perk of the Retreat; you get to bond with someone and also give back in some way.
Supporters are also designated spaces on a first come, first served basis.
Please contact Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have other questions.
Posted on Jan 15, 2013 - 04:54 PM by angie
We are pleased to announce registration is open for three Retreat Yourself weekends in 2013! Get your application in today, or please forward this message to any young adult cancer survivors you know who may benefit from this program.
Retreats are open to young adults who were diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 and 39, and are currently between the ages of 18 and 39; and have not attended a Retreat. Participants are invited to bring along one supporter within the age limit who is not their parent. Exceptions may be made for survivors who have previously attended a Retreat but have faced rediagnosis or another life-changing event. Please email email@example.com for more information.
We hope to see you there!
Posted on Jan 09, 2013 - 02:37 PM by angie
We here at YACC are excited to announce that we will be hosting not one, not two, not three but four retreats in 2013 including three Retreat Yourselfs and one Retreat Yourself Adventure. The retreat dates and locations are as follows:
You are not restricted to applying to the retreat in your area but it is recommended in order to cut on your travel time and costs.
We will be accepting applications for all retreats early in the new year. Since retreats are filled on a first come basis we will be creating a mailing list to send out a notification as soon as registration is open. If you are interested in being added to this mailing list please send your name, email and the retreat you are interested in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Dec 20, 2012 - 06:50 PM by Katie
Wow! Another incredible Retreat experience happened July 19-23, 2012 at Cabot Shores in beautiful Cape Breton. We brought 22 young adult survivors, four supporters, and a strong team of peer supporters and professional facilitators together for four days of community-building.
Because the flight options to Cape Breton are limited, many retreaters were on the same flights and many arrived on Wednesday night. We helped put people in touch with each other beforehand so they could share taxis and start to get acquainted before the official start of the retreat. I think this was a huge asset to the group dynamic! Instead of meeting 35 strangers all at once, people were able to get to know each other in small groups and there was a noticeable level of comfort and familiarity by the time we arrived at Cabot Shores.
Let’s just chat about Cabot Shores for a few moments, shall we? Cabot Shores is a wilderness resort nestled on 55 acres of beautiful property. Surrounded by the ocean, a lake, a brook, and beautiful forest, it was built by Barbara and Paul—a dynamic duo from the US—as “a place for rest and renewal along life’s journey.” Their philosophy was very clearly aligned with YACC’s, which made this a great partnership. The motto for Cabot Shores is “Awaken. Explore. Discover.” which is very much what we aim to facilitate through our Retreats!
Retreaters and facilitators stayed in beautiful chalets or in the main lodge. After everyone had settled into their rooms, we had a delicious and nutritious supper. With bellies full, we officially began the Retreat experience. After warm welcomes and an overview of the weekend, we had our Opening Circle, where everyone had a turn to introduce themselves and share a little bit of their stories.
People were very open and trusting and caring of one another from the very beginning; it was very touching to observe. I always find the Opening Circle one of the most powerful experiences within the retreat. To have all of these people sitting in one room who have experienced so many challenges at a young age, who have been forced to face and accept realities that were never expected, and who demonstrate such incredible strength of spirit and perseverance—it truly is a rare and privileged human experience to be surrounded by such powerful company.
On Friday morning, many people started the day with an outdoor Chi Gong session with Barbara. After breakfast, we had our first small group discussion. The topic was “relationships” as determined through a voting activity the previous night. People were encouraged to chat about family, romantic partnerships, friendships, or any relationships that were affected by their cancer diagnosis. Two of the “pearls of wisdom” that came from these discussions included the following:
Following the small group discussion, we had a group acupuncture session with Barbara from Cabot Shores. Barbara is a nurse and a trained acupuncturist. While we sat in a large circle, Barbara came along and put needles in our ears at specific points that are related to reducing stress. Although some people opted out, most of us chose to participate. After she completed the circle, we sat and meditated for a while and it was very peaceful. Once the needles were taken out, I felt a strong wave of relaxation—a very neat experience!
After lunch, we had two hours of free time. There were lots of outdoor activities to enjoy, including swimming, canoeing, kayaking, yolo boarding, and hiking. Several of us went on a “Warrior Walk,” led by Barbara, which is meant to encourage mindfulness and an awakening of the senses. We walked in silence through the beautiful scenery and when we reached the water, she led us through an energetic warrior cry from the Shambhala Buddhist tradition designed to rouse a sense of uplifted dignity. “Ki Ki! So So! Lha Gyal Lo! Tak Seng Kyung Druk Di Yar Kye!” Even though we stumbled over the foreign words, I think we all felt uplifted! We ended things with a fun chant from laughter yoga: “Very good. Very good. Yay!!!” Good times.
Before supper, we had our second small group discussion on “emotional health and wellbeing.” As anyone who has experienced cancer can attest to, the emotional consequences of this diagnosis can be just as intense, if not more so than the physical consequences. Several pearls of wisdom emerged from this discussion, including:
After a tasty supper, we had the pleasure of watching two of our Peer Supporters, Duncan and Dawn, give presentations on their cancer journeys. It was wonderful to get a more in-depth look at how all their experiences and the way they’ve chosen to process them have helped to shape them into the amazing people they are today: strong, yet vulnerable; gentle, yet feisty; and incredibly compassionate and dedicated to using their experiences to help others move forward on their paths. It was clear that different people in the audience connected with different parts of Duncan’s and Dawn’s stories. I think it really helps to provide hope and inspiration when you hear how someone else has struggled with similar things, yet has found a way to accept and move forward, which is why we include these presentations in our program.
We wrapped up the evening with a full group discussion. A couple people shared that they were feeling overwhelmed and wanted to leave. This honesty was appreciated and accepted by the group, without anyone trying to convince these people that they shouldn’t feel that way. I thought this demonstrated a high level of maturity and respect and reflected the pearl of wisdom from earlier in the day, “What you resist persists.” It was important to acknowledge and accept this feeling without trying to chase it away. This discussion also included a spontaneous (and beautiful) poetry reading, several profound comments from a Retreater which earned her the nickname of “Buddha,” and a huge group hug.
Saturday morning kicked off with an optional outdoor yoga session with Barbara. After breakfast, we had our third small group discussion on “fear of recurrence.” This is an intense topic, but also very important to address. One of the pearls of wisdom was “I am me. I don’t have to fall into statistics or compare myself to others.” This made me think of a couple things Geoff said at Survivor Conference 2011:
Good things to remember, especially if you receive a difficult prognosis.
On Saturday morning, we also had a healthy living session on anxiety. Two of our facilitators—a psychologist and social worker—discussed the physiological side of anxiety and helped to normalize anxiety as a natural and normal response to cancer. This was followed by practical tips for coping with anxiety and a breathing exercise.
Saturday afternoon, we had more free time and more enjoyment of outdoor activities. Several people jumped in the Atlantic Ocean, which was a little chilly, but refreshing! Several people also had individual acupuncture sessions with Barbara. After free time, we had an art therapy session which involved the creation of Vision Boards. Vision boards are a way to concretely create and envision your future as you wish it to unfold. People did a beautiful job with their vision boards and I loved to see all of the creativity.
After supper we had our final small group discussion on “reintrajectorization,” which is a YACC phrase that refers to moving on and redefining a new normal. One pearl of wisdom that emerged was “Your future doesn’t have to mean years from now. It can start today,” which emphasizes the value of taking one day at a time. Another pearl was “Sometimes you don’t have to plan; you just have to participate in life,” which really reflects the principle of mindfulness and living in the present moment. Finally, one small group said that moving on is a lot like packing a bag. You have to look at all the stuff in your life and decide what you want to keep and what you want to leave behind. Sometimes you may regret the things you leave behind, but in the end, it’s better to not have such a heavy bag to haul around on your journey. So true!
Saturday night we had Game Night and free time. While the facilitators had a meeting upstairs, we could hear lots of activity downstairs, which turned out to be rehearsals for some awesome talent show performances for the following night!
On Sunday morning, we started things off with survivor presentations by our other two Peer Supporters, Brandon and Nicole. Similar to Duncan and Dawn, they delivered their stories with grace and strength and the audience was clearly affected by power of their lived experiences. After these presentations, Karine delivered an overview of young adult cancer issues in Canada, as well as YACC’s programs and resources.
After lunch we had our closing circle. Along with opening circle, this is always one of my most favorite parts of our Retreats. We traded rocks of affirmation with one another, which is such a beautiful way to fill up our hearts and give us the courage and motivation to keep pushin’ forward on our paths once we return home. We got our T-shirts, signed the banner, and posed outside for our group shots as the sun set in the background.
After supper, we had our grand finale, which consisted of a talent show and a slideshow. Our talent show can fall anywhere along the continuum between totally silly and genuinely jaw-dropping talent. This year was a great mix of both. We had storytelling; singing; dancing; flute-, accordian-, guitar- and ukulele-playing; group participation activities (sing-alongs and a giant Cinnamon Bun Hug); YouTube videos; and more! I would have to say that the highlight for the group was the creation and delivery of our retreat theme song, “At Cancer Camp.” Funny, yet heartwarming (and surprisingly catchy!), this song really captured the bonding that happened at RYE12. A huge thanks to Russell and Brandon for their creativity and leadership on this one!
Finally, our talent show also included a recitation of cancer limericks by our Peer Supporter, Duncan Pike. Duncan has a true gift of taking cancer-related experiences and turning them into hilarious (and sometimes x-rated) limericks!
In a shout-out to Duncan, I will finish off this blog with one of his limericks created special for RYE12:
Like a 300-pound linebacker
I’m a fierce and determined YACC-backer
Since Retreat-Yourself West
You’ve all been the best
For the rest of my life, I’m a YACCer
A huge and heart-felt thank you to all the retreaters, facilitators, peer supporters, YACC staff, Cabot Shores, donors, and community partners for making Retreat Yourself East 2012 such an unforgettable experience!
Posted on Aug 14, 2012 - 09:50 AM by Shali
Shali, our Eastern Program Coordinator, wrote this blog after attending Retreat Yourself West in Morley, AB from May 3-7, 2012.
Wow…Retreat Yourself West 2012 (RYW12); you really know how to touch a girl’s heart.
I just returned from Alberta, where I spent four days in the company of 24 young adult cancer survivors and supporters and seven facilitators/peer supporters. The Retreat was held at Nakoda on the Lake, a beautiful rustic lodge nestled in the Rockies.
I had attended three YACC Retreats in the past in a variety of roles: survivor, research assistant, and peer supporter. And now I had the privilege of attending as a YACC employee. I must say, my past experiences had set the bar high and I headed into the weekend with pretty high expectations.
Thankfully, RYW12 did not disappoint! For the facilitation team, the weekend officially kicked-off with a pre-retreat meeting on Wednesday evening at Wellspring Calgary’s beautiful Carma House (Thank you Wellspring Calgary--especially Anna and Patti for your continuous support). Over pizza and chicken wings (So delicious--why don’t we have Pizza 73 out east?), we familiarized ourselves with the Retreat program. Most of us were Retreat Yourself alumni, but we were delighted to welcome two new members into the fold: Scott Blanchard, a nurse at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, and Lindsay Drabiuk, a Spiritual Health Specialist at CancerCare Manitoba. Within no time, we were cracking jokes and bonding like a family.
On Thursday, the retreaters started to arrive by bus, plane, and car to the Holiday Inn hotel. It can be very intimidating to walk into a room where you don’t know anyone, but I was very impressed with how quickly people connected. Once we had everyone gathered, we boarded a bus and headed off to the Nakoda Lodge. I had seen pictures of the Lodge online, but I was still somewhat in awe when we arrived. What a perfect setting for Retreat Yourself! We had some time to settle into our surroundings and then met for a delicious dinner overlooking the lake and the mountains. After dinner, we had Opening Circle, a time to introduce ourselves and share our stories. As always, I was humbled and inspired by everyone’s willingness to be so open and vulnerable with a group of strangers. The circle felt very rich, very raw, and also very safe; I felt extremely lucky to be a part of it.
Friday was our first full day of the program. We had two small group discussions on isolation and physical changes/fatigue. One of the “pearls of wisdom” from the isolation discussion was, “Cupcakes are stupid/I miss cupcakes”.” Cupcakes represented the small talk that is so common in society (e.g., How’s the weather? Did you see Glee last night?). After being diagnosed with cancer, this kind of chit chat seems so trivial and you don’t want to engage in it when there are so many other much more important things to talk about. But at the same time, after being forced to talk about life and death issues for so long, you want to go back to talking about the small stuff, at least some of the time.
On Friday, we also had a presentation from Lauren Capozzi, a graduate student at the University of Calgary whose research focuses on physical activity and cancer survivors. Lauren was a very dynamic speaker and definitely motivated us to be more active! She stated that by doing 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week, we can reduce our risk of a cancer recurrence by 40 to 50 per cent! Whoa! I’ve never felt so excited to exercise!
During free time on Friday afternoon, many people went for a walk around the lake. The path was a bit precarious, but the beauty was solid. Others went swimming in the pool, played Apples to Apples, or simply relaxed.
Friday evening, we had the pleasure of listening to two of our peer supporters, Colin and Ashley, share their stories. Each of them brought their unique flavor to the presentations and inspired us to keep moving forward in our own cancer journeys. With his dry sense of humor that I love so much, Colin shared stories of his colorful past and showed how cancer can be the catalyst to positive change in terms of having a healthier lifestyle, refining our relationships, and showing us what’s really important in life. He also talked about the effect that YACC has had on him, such the introduction of a whole new vocabulary that includes words like “headspace”. Ashley gave us a brief overview of her personal journey, and then shared some important lessons she had learned along the way. Ashley works as an Occupational Therapist with small children and proved to us why she is perfect for this job when she gave us all treat bags that she had put together before the Retreat. The treat bags contained a variety of items that each symbolized a lesson we could apply to our lives after cancer. For example, a bouncy ball reminded us that we can bounce back, even if it takes a long time.
Friday night, we had free time. Many people enjoyed music and s’mores around the campfire (A huge thank you to Chris and Stephanie for bringing the s’mores supplies and to Arjun for playing guitar!).
On Saturday, we met in small groups to discuss fear of recurrence and death. It was an intense topic, but I think everyone appreciated having an opportunity to discuss it openly. Several pearls of wisdom emerged, including, “Share. Don’t compare. Get a check. Don’t freak.” Our small group discussion was followed by a presentation on spiritual and emotional health, facilitated by our facilitator, Lindsay. For me, this presentation was one giant pearl of wisdom--it helped me to look at a lot of things in new ways and left me feeling empowered to draw positive meaning out of life’s challenges.
During free time on Saturday, people went canoeing, hiking, or just relaxed. Despite the snow in the morning, the afternoon was beautiful and a perfect time to enjoy the incredible scenery.
Before supper, retreaters were invited to make vision boards on the topic of “reintrajectorization.” Despite the variance in feelings towards arts and crafts, most people seemed to really enjoy this activity. Surrounded by magazines, glitter, pipe cleaner, and feathers, it was hard not to feel like a kid again. After supper, people were encouraged to present their vision boards, and I really enjoyed seeing all the creative ways that people depicted their fears, their dreams, and their visions for their paths forward.
Saturday night was game night. Many people played Popcorn (a YACC favorite, thanks to Mikey and Bonnie Lang). It involves celebrities, charades, a bed sheet, and a whole lot of laughter. Despite feeling exhausted, I played a few rounds, and went to bed smiling at our silliness.
Sunday after breakfast, Jamie and I shared our stories with the group. Jamie’s cancer story is interwoven with a beautiful love story and offered a lot of hope for people who are facing fertility challenges as a result of cancer treatment. Jamie and her partner are currently in the process of becoming parents through a surrogate and she had lots of great information about this option to share with the group. Following our survivor presentations, Karine gave a presentation on YACC and gathered feedback on possibilities for future programs. This was followed by free time and a powerful closing circle.
After supper, we had our talent show. Hosted by the lovely Miss Ashley, the show entertained us all and made our stomachs hurt from laughing so much. It flowed into a series of songs (French and English), poetry, stupid human tricks, yoga moves, a slideshow, magic, and more. Towards the end, we surprised Shawnna with a beautiful birthday cake to celebrate her 30th birthday and then wrapped up with the “Muffin Song,” performed by Lenny “Free Time” Gallant. I think it’s safe to say that if we ever make a soundtrack for Retreat Yourself, this song will be the title track!
The night ended with an awesome slide show that Karine put together using pictures and videos collected throughout the weekend. The slide show did a great job of capturing the huge continuum of emotions and experiences that happened over the course of four days. The laughter, the tears, the friendships, the learning, and the letting go. How we manage to cram all of this into four days remains a mystery.
I want to extend a huge, heart-filled thank you to everyone who made RYW12 possible:
To the people who shaved their heads and those who donated to them: Thank you for helping us to raise the funds needed to offer our retreats!
To the staff at the Nakoda Lodge: Thank you for the wonderful hospitality and the delicious food!
And finally, to our retreaters: Thank you for having the courage to apply to attend RYW12. For many, it meant stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk. Thank you for making whatever adjustments you needed to be able to leave home for five days. I know it’s not always easy to arrange child/pet care, take time off work, or simply to step away from our routines. Thank you for coming with such an open heart, willing to share and receive in an honest and genuine way. Thank you for not hiding your tears; it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in our pain. And thank you for all the laughter; it truly is medicine for the soul.
Overall, RYW12 put a whole lotta lovin’ in my muffin, and for that, I am grateful!
Posted on May 28, 2012 - 07:01 AM by Shali
Ever wonder what Retreat Yourself is all about? Were you unable to make it this year? The best way to understand Retreat Yourself is to be there, but the second-best way is to read an insider's account.
Karine Chalifour and Shali Manuel are currently wrapping up Retreat Yourself West 2012 at Nakoda on the Lake. Karine was posting feedback all weekend on Facebook, but in case you're not friends with her, here's a recap of what she had to say:
Awesome night with our Retreat team. This will be another EPIC weekend! (11:39 p.m.)
RYW2012: Day 1 is over and we witnessed listening and attention at its best. Thanks to everyone. Your stories, true, and told from the heart are what make these events so special and so unique. (12:40 a.m.)
First group session on the go. Isolation is the topic this morning with more then half the group asking to talk about it. Let's open our heart and listen to our stories. (10:20 a.m.)
RYW2012: Day 2 coming to an end. Truly a wonderful day. The weather was awesome, the mountains big, the food great. But what really made that day so great was the company. I am going to bed full, content, and giggly. See ya tomorrow. (1:20 a.m.)
RYW2012. Nakoda on the Lake continues to grow on all of us. Great customer service, great people, great food and what can you say about the location other than..."have a look at what's in my backyard!" (1:26 a.m.)
Nakoda on the Lake this morning...Thankful there is an indoor pool and a giant fire place! (10:20 a.m.)
Day 3 RYW2012: Fear of dying and of recurrence discussion this morning followed by Lindsay Drabiuk talking about our spiritual health. Should be a morning of connectedness, soul searching and support. (10:40 a.m.)
Vision board time! Peaceful creativity. (4:58 p.m.)
Nothing like a good game of Popcorn to finish a great and intense day! Thanks to Mikey and Bonnie for introducing this to our world. (11:24 p.m.)
RYW 2012: Day 3. The roller coaster of emotions continued and everyone allowed it to be. Going to bed humbled, tired but more inspired than yesterday and I know the weekend is not over. Thanks to everyone's heart. (11:28 p.m.)
RYW2012: Day 4 completed. Endbeginings for all of us. No easy words to describe our last day together. Feeling very grateful. Thanks to all who made this possible. (1:45 a.m.)
We are currently accepting applications for Retreat Yourself Adventure, our brand new Retreat program. Head on over here to see what it's all about!
Posted on May 07, 2012 - 12:31 PM by angie
Lindsay Lenny is returning to Retreat Yourself West 2012 as a peer supporter. Read on to learn her story and see how cancer is a part of her life.
Almost seven years ago, in 2005, I was diagnosis with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I was 29, a first-year nursing student, and working part-time. Life came to a complete halt and became an hour to hour battle. From the time of my diagnosis and through treatment, it has been a battle of infections and surviving treatment. I had a stem cell transplant, two rounds of intense chemotherapy, and two rounds of full body radiation.
Needless to say, I have a whole new outlook on life.
I am excited to meet you all at this years YACC Retreat Yourself West 2012. I have been asked again to be a peer supporter. My first experience with YACC was back in the summer of 2007. I was looking for connections with young adults with cancer like me. I craved the need to talk and find someone who could understand and "get" what I was going through. So I braved the trip to go meet a need that I could not stop.
After that short weekend, I came home fulfilled. I was not alone. I had so much support. I learned coping skills and broke some of my personal barriers. I never imagined coming away from being a complete stranger, to having a family and friends that I have to this day. This is why attending a YACC Retreat will change your life for the good.
I continued to be involved with YACC, going to Survivor Conferences, and being a peer supporter for Retreat Yourself West 2009. I started my own young adult cancer support group, to help my peers connect to others. I wanted to give back what YACC gave me. Support and a big family who "get it."
Today, I am healthy. Still have chronic issues from treatment, but live everyday to max. I live with my boyfriend of three years. He also has cancer and is another young adult like all of us. We met at a YACC Retreat and have been dealing with his re-occurrence and treatment of a brain tumor these past two years. Our realtionship works and we both “get it”! I now know what a supporter goes through, and that we need support too. We live each day as our last, and love each other like there is no tomorrow. There is no time for anything but.
I look forward to meeting you and sharing my experiences, struggles, highs and lows. But, most of all , to introduce and include you in this big family.
Posted on Apr 09, 2012 - 09:08 AM by angie
Ashley was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer in 2004 at the age of 21. She has attended Retreat Yourself in 2009, Retreat Yourself Adventure 2010, and Survivor Conference 2010. Read on to get to know her a little!
I’m so thrilled to be a peer supporter for Retreat Yourself West (and in my home province)! I first attended Retreat Yourself in 2009. At the time, I was a peer supporter with the Canadian Cancer Society when I heard of YACC, and they suggested I attend, as there was a definite need for more support for young adults!
The best way I can describe a retreat, is that it feels like coming home. It may sound strange when you are surrounded by a group of individuals you may have just met, but there is an incredible bond amongst cancer survivors that is hard to describe. There is an element of compassion, understanding and kinship unlike no other.
When you attend a retreat, you obtain a secondary family in a group of individuals who love and accept you. For myself, I found that the retreat was so important to realize you are not alone in the experience!
Posted on Apr 02, 2012 - 06:53 AM by angie
M.S.W., Supportive Care Coordinator, Community Cancer Programs Network
Beside the amazing work Megan does in Winnipeg she has been involved with YACC for many years as a mentor and a facilitator at Retreats and Conferences. Let's just say YACC's programs would not be what they are today if it wasn't for Megan.
M.Div. Spiritual Health Specialist ,Psychosocial Oncology, CancerCare Manitoba
Lindsay is Megan's colleague and this will be her first YACC event. We are so grateful she is connected with us and are looking forward to meeting her. Her expertise is something we never had in a Retreat setting and we're excited to bring it and learn from it.
RN BN BA, Registered Nurse, Outpatient Clinics, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Alberta Health Services Cancer Care
Scott will also be attending a Retreat for the first time, but this won't be his first time working with the young adult population. He has been co-facilitating the Cancer Club with Lindsay Lenny for a few years now. Scott, welcome, and we're so happy to will finally meet you.
Christine is a Home Care nurse with more than 18 years of nursing experience. We first connected with Christine at Retreat Yourself 2010 where she was attending as a supporter for her sister, Natalie. We have fell in love with her, and Christine has been facilitating at Retreat Yourself and the Survivor Conference ever since.
Posted on Mar 28, 2012 - 09:43 AM by angie
We are thrilled to tell you that we are accepting applications for Retreat Yourself in 2012!
There will be two Retreats this year: Retreat Yourself West in Morley, AB from May 3-7 and Retreat Yourself East in Cape Breton, NS from July 19-23. You are not restricted to applying to the Retreat in your area, but it is recommended in order to cut on your travel time and costs.
We have lined up two new locations for a change of (breathtaking) scenery which provide a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere to aide your experience. Our program is purposely loosely structured to allow you to feel at ease and to address your most important issues. Most importantly, you will get to build tight connections with a small group of young adult cancer survivors.
Space is limited, so apply today!
Posted on Jan 03, 2012 - 04:58 PM by angie
Wow. What an experience. Retreat Yourself has been described to me in many words and through many mediums since my role at YACC began. Staff and survivors have shared photos, videos, and told many stories about the magnitude of the program. Nevertheless, I was completely unprepared to be so astounded and moved by the event. Looking back, I feel nothing but grateful to have been a part of such a fantastic four days, with such openly courageous (and hilarious) individuals!
As a facilitator on my very first retreat, I was lucky to have some pretty remarkable colleagues to work with. Take Jocelyn, our lovely nurse from Toronto. Always gentle, full of knowledge, and ready to give a killer back massage. Our peer supporters and facilitators: Mikey, Bonnie, Danielle, Jen, Shannon, and Mary-Anne, were the collaborative pillars of strength, offering perpetual entertainment and assistance. One of my favourite parts of the weekend was listening to their own stories and cancer journeys. Witnessing their reflective presentations was a very cool scene. Last but not least, this entire retreat was executed by YACC’s own leading light, Karine. Nowhere will you find a more compassionate, versatile, inspiring program director—what a rockstar.
And Edenvale Conference Centre, this place is delicious. Chef Joseph had everyone well-fed from the bounties of this organic BC farm—all day, every day. He even hosted an informative session on healthy cooking and nourishment. That was some of the finest food I will probably ever encounter (especially the carrot cake). Like Bonnie says, “eat real food!”
The welcoming staff and relaxing comforts of Edenvale amazed us all. We had restful sleeps, gorgeous walks, and many dips in the pool—our own private oasis. Most importantly, this environment set the stage for beautiful conversation and reflection. I will never be able to put into words the sense of community that was cultivated this weekend. I think the group would agree that a hybrid word would be appropriate here. Perhaps "fanta-bulous," or "amaz-tic"? Thank you Edenvale!
The Retreat would not have been complete without the on-stage acts of our surprisingly talented survivors. We were fortunate enough to witness a chemo-inspired beauty pageant, a rap battle, and a burping performance of the ABC’s. If this wasn’t enough, there was also stand-up comedy, Tim-Tam Slams, and a valuable “seminar” on Newfoundlander-lingo. I will be utilizing these effective phrases for my next visit out East!
The sessions offered at Retreat Yourself are incredibly releasing and uplifting. Whether you’re comfortable in small group chats, art therapy, exercise, breathing, or just plain relaxation, there is something for everyone. Thank you to all the survivors for your participation, and for so openly sharing your narratives with me.
After many laughs, many cries, and a lot of banter, this group became fused in a very exceptional and unique way. I will never forget it. Furthermore, these “strangers” are now home with a new network of survivors who truly “get” what they are going through—the makings of a successful Retreat, if you ask me!
Posted on Aug 04, 2011 - 10:36 AM by Stacey
One of the great things about Retreat Yourself is it is so much more than you expect: people who you've just met who have like minds, the beautiful food, the head nodding of understanding while you speak. It's such a relief to talk with a group of people that understand you--really understand you.
My husband and I attended Retreat Yourself last year and we met so many people that we now call our friends. Even though we are all very busy we still manage to stay connected and support each other.
I really loved the mix of creative time, down time, fun time, and social time. It was very obvious that the YACC organizers put a lot of time and thought into finding a balance for us all. I came away from the Retreat feeling full of love, support, and gratitude. What more can you ask for?
The cancer journey is not an easy one, but it has made me a more resilient, better person. Retreat Yourself provides a safe place for us all to come together to share our stories, laugh, cry and most of all, be real.
What a beautiful thing.
Posted on Jul 21, 2011 - 08:42 AM by angie
I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer (a different kind in each breast) in March of 2009. I was 35 at the time and completely in shock about the diagnosis. I read everything I could get my hands on, from medical books and studies to memoirs about the breast cancer experience. Each little piece of information helped, but I couldn’t get past a sense of missing pieces. No matter how much I read, I never felt truly prepared for the journey. And it really seemed, according to the accounts of breast cancer that I read, that I wasn’t quite on the same page as the women I was reading about. It was hard to put my finger on, but it was unsettling.
When I tried my first support group it was a bit of a shock. I was the youngest person there! All the other women were in their late 50s or 60s. I felt out of place and awkward. They were sympathetic and kind, but their issues were so different from mine. They were so horrified that I had breast cancer so young that I kind of felt like some kind of medical anomaly. I didn’t go back.
Then I learned about Young Adult Cancer Canada’s Retreat Yourself program. I applied the second I found out about it (especially when I learned it wouldn’t cost me anything!) and was overjoyed when I got accepted. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I just kept remembering that first support group and how awful it felt. I was sure that the Retreat had to be better than that group!
When I got to the meeting place and began to see all the other people arriving as well, I felt unsure and a bit scared. I wondered if I had just signed myself up for several days of feeling like I didn’t belong once again. I tried to chat with people and introduce myself, but I was still uneasy.
It wasn’t until the second morning of the retreat when the whole group was being led through some simple meditation techniques to learn how to quiet the mind that I had a major breakthrough.
I was sitting there trying so hard to meditate. I was using all my concentration and feeling more and more panicked that it wasn’t working for me. I just couldn’t let go! Suddenly I felt awful. Here I was in a wonderful place surrounded by great people and opportunities to learn and grow and I was blowing it! I started to see myself messing up my whole Retreat by not trying hard enough and somehow not learning enough. I felt like a failure! I was so disappointed in myself for wasting this opportunity. I didn’t know what to do. I sat there in that feeling for a minute and tried once again to empty my mind. A quiet thought drifted into all those whirling emotions. There is no wrong way to do this. I thought, huh? What was that? There is no wrong way to do this. There is no wrong way to do this. I sat with that for a moment to let it sink in. And it hit me. There was no wrong way to do this Retreat! All I needed to do was be there! Well I could do that! I was already at the Retreat, and that was half the battle! I felt my mind start to relax and I began to feel how wonderful it was to sit in a room full of other young adults who just accepted me.
The rest of the Retreat was wonderful! I gained two life-changing things from that Retreat:
I really started to understand how hard I always was on myself, as if being hard on myself could somehow protect me and make me successful in life. I suddenly knew I didn’t want to do that to myself anymore. If I couldn’t be nice to myself during the cancer journey, when could I be nice to myself?
The second thing I gained was community. That Retreat showed me just how lonely I was before. I made so many wonderful friends! And the practice I gained at making new friends helped me to continue to reach out once I returned home. I went from being truly isolated in my cancer experience to being surrounded by people (both in Vancouver and over the Internet) who understood what I was going through because they were going through it too.
Posted on Jul 18, 2011 - 05:30 AM by angie
I attended my first YACC Retreat in the summer of 2007, a little over six months after I had finished treatment for a diagnosis of a rare ovarian cancer. I was still searching for people who understood what I was going through and could ease my mind about the post-effects of chemotherapy, as I was having many issues.
I found more than I knew I was looking for. I met so many people who "got it" and were there to support each other over the last four and a half years across the country by email, Facebook, and visits through Survivor Conferences and the filming of Wrong Way to Hope. I found coping tools and felt comfortable talking about what I felt I couldn't with my family and friends. It was safe and with many people in different stages of their journey; I gained insight that I would be ok.
People I meet at Retreat Yourself are so amazing; I now have people all across Canada that I can connect with. There weren't West and East retreats when I first started attending, so though you won't meet many people from across Canada, you'll meet those that are a bit closer to you which helps with keeping connections tight.
I love the fact that I've been asked three times now to attend as a peer supporter. I am honoured by this actually, as meeting all of you really does make my heart bigger and allow for me to experience life to the fullest!
"You don't have to grasp onto the old, when you can embrace the new." - Jen Luce
Check out my blog about life, peace, and cancer at http://www.turnurlifearound.wordpress.com.
Posted on Jul 15, 2011 - 06:48 AM by angie
We introduced you to Danielle Wolff last week through her blog post on what to expect at a Retreat. We would like to take the opportunity to tell you a little more about the rest of the team you will meet at Edenvale:
Our facilitators work to make sure the program is followed, the needs of the Retreaters are met, and the discussions are productive. Feel free to ask them anything during the weekend, from when the meal is, to advice on an issue.
Karine Chalifour is YACC's Program Director. She is a Social Worker by profession, but has been with YACC for more than two years now. She said, "I feel priviledged to play this role and to be able to connect face to face with survivors and supporters I have connected with via emails throughout the year. My passion relies on working with and for the young adult population and the Retreat feeds my passion fully."
Mike Lang is a Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor, amongst many other things. He was YACC's Western Program Director until March 2011 when he embarked on a film tour of Wrong Way To Hope, a film he made with his wife, Bonnie (see below), about leading cancer survivors on an outdoor adventure expedition. He has been the participant and facilitator at many YACC events, and he is continuing to strive to identify ways to improve the lives of young adult cancer survivors. He's friendly, compassionate, and always ready for an impromptu game of anything. You'll have a great time together!
Bonnie Lang is just as magnetic as her husband, with her positive attitude, can-do spirit, and awareness about physical fitness that will inspire the biggest couch potato to get moving. When Mikey was diagnosed with cancer just a few months after they had gotten married, Bonnie had to adjust quickly to be a supporter when they were just settling in to their new life together. Bonnie has also attended many YACC events as a participant, peer supporter, and facilitator. She cares deeply about people and leads a mean workshop.
Jocelyn Brown is a Clinical Nurse Specialist: Palliative Care and Cancer Pain Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, ON. This is Jocelyn's first event with YACC, but she comes highly recommended by a very reliable source and has been involved with other cancer programs such as Camp Oochigeas. We are very excited to welcome Jocelyn to the team, and we hope she finds this weekend as inspiring as we do. She will be there to help facilitate group discussions, and assist with any medical issues we encounter at the Retreat.
Our peers are other cancer survivors who have a history with YACC and wanted to give back and share what they've learned throughout their own cancer experiences. They will be joining the facilitators in the small group discussions and workshops, and will be around all weekend to get to know you better.
Shannon Simpson is a Breast Cancer survivor, mother of twins, and great cancer advocate who is very involved with Callanish Society. She attended Retreat Yourself West 2010 and this is her first experience as a peer.
Mary Anne Brown is a Breast Cancer and BRCA2 survivor, and an alumnus from Retreat Yourself West 2009. She says she learned a lot from her cancer experience and we're looking forward to having her share pieces of her story during her first experience as a peer. We are also excited to see how her artistic abilities may help out during the Retreat.
Jen Luce is a familiar face around YACC as a Retreat Yourself 2007 alumnus, peer for multiple Retreats since, and one of the survivors featured in Wrong Way To Hope. She has survived a rare from of Ovarian Cancer and has been involved with the young adult cancer world ever since. She is very creative and artistic, and you can read more about her on her blog, Turn Your Life Around.
Danielle Wolff is an alumnus from Retreat Yourself 2007 who is connected with YACC and Callanish. This is her second year as a peer. She is really down to earth and has a great sense of humour so we know she's going to fit right in with this group!
Stacey Rosehill is our new Western Program Coordinator. This is her first Retreat Yourself experience, and her first YACC event in general! She is a recent graduate of the University of Calgary's Communications Studies program and she has a lot of interesting experiences under her belt. We're excited for her to get her feet wet with our programs in the Edenvale pool!
Everyone here at YACC feels privilged to be surrounded by these amazing individuals and I know you will feel the same way too.
Looking forward to meeting all you Retreaters!
Posted on Jul 12, 2011 - 01:31 PM by angie
A sunset from Danielle's first Retreat Yourself
The idea of spending four days with strangers, talking about your cancer in a way you probably haven't been able to, and confronting some issues you probably didn't know you had can be intimidating. While we keep telling you we know you'll be comfortable, we thought you might like to hear it from someone who was once in your shoes, and is coming back as a peer supporter.
My time at Retreat Yourself 2007
By Danielle Wolff
I came to Retreat Yourself 2007 outside of Montreal not quite knowing what to expect. So many young adult cancer survivors together, it was almost like Cancerpalooza! I travelled to Montreal with four other young adult cancer survivors from Vancouver who I knew from the YACN support group based there. But we were soon separated and I was in my room with three other Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivors.
The next few days were a whirlwind of getting connected to a community like no other. It was so awesome to be surrounded by everyone like me. My patchy thin hair from chemo got no stares, nor did my lack of energy raise any eyebrows. My difference was normal there. I shared. I listened. I laughed—A LOT. And I cried a few tears. I also swam, competed to be the World’s Worst Dancer, and sang songs around the campfire. I left with a sun kissed face, fantastic memories, a load off my shoulders, and 30 friends I will always feel connected to in some way.
Posted on Jul 06, 2011 - 12:41 PM by angie
A quote overheard during Popcorn. Fun and time to clear your head is what the Retreat is all about!
Since I started working with Young Adult Cancer Canada in October, I have had the pleasure of attending some program activities and events, and then Retreat Yourself East in Rocky Harbour, NL presented another opportunity to me.
I was invited to spend over four days with 13 cancer survivors, three of their supporters, and six other facilitators. I checked my schedule and said yes as soon as I made a few small arrangements.
One thing I have learned about attending YACC programs and events is it's impossible to leave with the same lessons after each one. After the Survivor Conference in November, I left with a sense of purpose when I came to work each day. After participating in the Shave for the Brave, I was a part of a bigger community and felt a sense of compassion. After this Retreat, I feel a sense of commitment (thanks, Mikey!) to the 7,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer in Canada this year.
I have met even more people and heard even more stories. I look forward to finding ways to share them with you where the participants are willing. I learned more about what chemo does to your body, and heard of more examples of preventative surgeries.
We confronted our fears by climbing out onto the rocks of the lookout, let go of our inhibitions by playing Popcorn (a game like Charades and HedBanz, with an acting-under-a-sheet component), cried when we felt sad and laughed when we were happy (although sometimes they happened at the same time), and learned just how important support from other young adults is when you're going through cancer.
Retreat Yourself does have scheduled programming, but there's still room to have fun. There was a Chubby Bunny contest during the beach bonfire, an impromptu polar bear dip, many opportunities for outdoor exploration, impromptu breaks to take photos of breathtaking sunsets, and tons of bonding over our favourite YouTube videos.
I spent hours constructing an origami lily from instructions found on an iPhone with a survivor and marveled at her dedication and commitment when I would have given up long ago. She inspired me to keep going, keep trying, and keep looking for solutions if they're not evident. It goes without saying that I'll continue to use that lesson in my life.
The Ocean View Hotel, our home for four days, made the experience even better. They provided a comfortable atmosphere, a beautiful dining room with incredible kitchen staff who didn't have much trouble with our unusual eating restrictions and incorporated fresh seafood as much as they could (the crab cakes and lobster linguine were incredible!), everything we needed from TVs for karaoke to stepping stools for energy work sessions, and smiling faces around every turn.
So thank you for letting me in and sharing your experiences with me. I look forward to seeing everyone again.
Posted on Apr 29, 2011 - 06:16 PM by angie
We're very excited that we have so many people already enthusiastic about attending Retreat Yourself East in Rocky Harbour, NL. Tickets are booked, babysitters are arranged, and it will soon be time to pack your bags.
Have you been thinking about attending the Retreat? There's still time to get your application in. Karine will get back to you as soon as possible to help you work out the details.
Feel free to contact her at email@example.com if you have any questions.
We can't wait to meet you all!
Posted on Apr 07, 2011 - 04:49 PM by angie
Coming to the Retreat is a big step and here are some things you might expect from this experience:
As a survivor, I attended my first Retreat in 2007. All I knew was that I would be bunking with a bunch of strangers for four nights and wasn’t too sure on what was going to come out of this. I had a lot of apprehension but felt excited at the same time.
I was ready to come home after the first night, no doubt. I am so glad I stayed because it has lead me on this path to give back. I saw how we, as strangers who have come together to share this journey, made each other feel supported and safe. And that weekend showed me how safe and supported I was and the apprehension I was feeling shifted to this feeling of acceptance to a growing community that I knew I was going to be a part of for a long time.
As my interest grew for YACC I knew that I wanted to do more. I was asked to be a supporter for the 2008 and 2009 Retreat, and now again at the 2011 Retreat. Having this opportunity has allowed me to grow as an individual and I have gained wisdom, character, and more love and understanding beyond the few words I can write.
My cancer journey became clearer after I came home from my Retreat, and showed me a solid direction to give back to this growing community. I love everything about YACC and what it represents and I love the people who make these experiences happen behind the scenes.
Cheers as we Live, Love, and Laugh
Posted on Mar 23, 2011 - 10:28 AM by angie
Bonnie Lang has experience as a cancer supporter. Her husband, Mikey, was diagnosed just five months after they were married. They got through it together and have gone on to be great friends and supporter of Young Adult Cancer Canada and young adults dealing with cancer throughout the whole country.
It seemed like a normal walk through the halls of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre after one of my husband's chemo treatments; a normal quiet elevator ride back to the main floor to pay our parking fee and head back home. That was when we noticed a piece of paper on the ground in the elevator. Mikey picked it up—it was a poster for a retreat with a group called "YACC" that we'd never heard of. The words "Lake Louise" (Oh! It's nearby!), "Young adults" (Hey! That's Mikey!), "supporters" (Cool—that’s me!), and "free" (Why not? We're in).
It was Tuesday, and the retreat started Thursday night, so I cancelled my clients at the gym for Friday and soon enough, Thursday evening rolled around. We anxiously got in the car, packed for an uncertain weekend feeling both nervous and excited, and hit the road.
I can't imagine how our different our lives would have been if we had not taken a step into the unknown and traveled to that retreat. Not only did we meet a great group of survivors at that first retreat who made that weekend a memorable and significant one, but we gained a group of friends who have walked alongside us through many turns in life and gained a community of like-minded people with whom we both could relate. Besides the connections with people, we were also prompted to begin interacting with Mikey's cancer experience rather than try to forget about it, and that set off a series of events that have changed the course of our lives.
Although I was initially concerned as to whether or not I belonged at this event as a supporter rather than a survivor, I gained a lot from the Retreat and felt like I had a place and a voice among the group and also with Mikey as I walked alongside of him. If you are supporter and think that your needs, emotions, and experiences aren't as weighty as the survivor you are supporting, I want to encourage you to take that step alongside your survivor and attend the Retreat. Not only will you be recharged and encouraged personally, but you will watch the person you are supporting feel connected and uplifted, which in turn will brighten your mood for your friend/spouse/family member.
It was a relief to me to watch my husband interact with peers who truly understood what he was going through and took some pressure off of me as I realized that I can support to an extent with certain things but that connecting with others who have walked the same walk is a tremendous support to him. I was also affirmed as I heard numerous survivors connect on the issue of being thankful for their supporters, and I left feeling like I knew what my role was more clearly in Mikey's cancer journey.
Today we look forward to each Retreat, embracing the first few hours of awkward moments as strangers get to know each other and share life, and anticipating the end of the weekend when we are bonded, joyful group in spite of the suffering and hardship many people are walking through. The moments of learning and connecting, shared times of laughter and tears, and feeling of support and acceptance into a community are what keeps us coming back. For survivors and supporters alike, I encourage you to think about attending a YACC Retreat and ending the isolation, doubt, and frustration you may be experiencing.
We look forward to sharing a weekend with you all!
Bonnie Lang, supporter
Posted on Mar 16, 2011 - 05:39 AM by angie
One of our Retreat Yourself East peer facilitators, Dawn, has some words of wisdom for anyone registered or thinking of applying to a Retreat.
Before attending my first retreat in 2009, I felt more isolated and lonely than ever before. I sometimes refer to it as my "cancer closet" stage. It's weird because I was surrounded by so many amazing friends and family, and as sympathetic and understanding as they were, they didn't have cancer. Until someone tells you "it's cancer," it's impossible to know what happens to your world.
In a desperate search for other people like me, I found Young Adult Cancer Canada, and one of the first things I did was attend Retreat Yourself East. Honestly, when I first arrived at the meeting place, all I could think was "Oh god. Am I a part of that group now?" Although the isolation was depressing, facing the reality of my situation by seeing it in others was quite difficult. By the time we had our first circle that evening, I realized that all those "cancer patients" were just like me. They were normal young people, just starting out in life, unsuspecting of cancer, and hit with it like a ton of bricks. We were all there together, doing the best we could, looking for camaraderie and...well maybe we didn't even know what we were looking for. We found so much more than I could have imagined.
You'll have to attend the Retreat to discover the magic that happens, and it really is like magic. By the end of the weekend, I left with a bunch of new best friends, a lot of resolved issues, tons of inspiration, a sense of renewal, peace of mind and hope. And that was just the beginning. Those relationships continued to grow, my connectedness to the community strengthened, and now I find myself on the other side, as it were, inviting people out of their "cancer closet."
Posted on Mar 09, 2011 - 01:09 PM by angie
Retreat East in Newfoundland is fast approaching and we are getting really excited. Last week, I had my first conference call with the amazing team of facilitators and peers for this year's Retreat and I wanted to take some time to introduce them to you.
Our facilitators are there to lead small and big group discussions and to provide support to the group throughout the weekend. They are also there to have fun and to connect with the retreaters.
Our Peers are engaged survivors and supporters living in the region where the Retreat is taking place (or not too far), who have been to a Retreat in the past, and know first hand how it feels. Their role is to make connections with the retreaters and co-facilitate the small and full group discussions. Of course, they are also leaders in the free time silliness.
Norma D'Agostino is a clinical health psychologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, and a long time member of Young Adult Cancer Canada's (YACC) family. Norma first offered her time and expertise to facilitate a Retreat happening in Quebec in 2006. She has been connected with YACC ever since and has facilitated many events with us. Norma is not only qualified, but she also has a true understanding of what it can mean to be a young adult cancer survivor. She works with this population daily and our programs would not be what they are today if it was not for her wisdom and feedback.
Christine Skakum is an experienced nurse working in home care in Winnipeg, MB. She is also a wonderful woman we met at Retreat Yourself 2010. Christine attended the Retreat as the supporter of her sister who is dealing with cancer. During that weekend it became clear that we wanted to do more things with Christine and she joined our team of facilitators at our last Survivor Conference 2010. She is coming back for Retreat East and we are thrilled. Not only does Christine have natural skills as a facilitator, she also knows first hand what it means to support a young adult who has cancer.
Mike Lang is also joining our group and will bring his energy and expertise to the team. We first met Mikey at the Survivor Conference in 2008. He attended as a survivor with his wife (Bonnie). We knew then that the adventure with him would not stop there. Since 2008, Mikey has attended the Retreat in 2009 and worked for YACC for about a year. He is leaving the team at the end of March to pursue other dreams to help young adults (WW2H, Peacefield) but will continue to be an important part of our programs as a facilitator. Mikey has been working in the adventure therapy field for seven years and will bring his fresh skills and energy to the group.
Finally, I myself will be a facilitator as well. I am a Social Worker by profession, but have been the Program Director at YACC for more than two years now. I feel proviledged to play that role and be able to connect face to face with survivors and supporters I have connected throughout the year with via emails. My passion relies on working with and for the young adult population and the Retreat feeds my passion fully.
We also have four amazing peers joining the Retreat this year.
Dawn Cleary is a breast cancer survivor who've attended Retreat Yourself East 2009. She has been connected and engaged with YACC since then and will bring her kindness, strength, knowledge, and skills to the team.
Renee Bennett (a.k.a. Coach) has been a YACC family member since Retreat 2007 and will be there for the second time as a peer. Renee is a two-time Non-Hodgkin's cancer survivor, mother of two, basketball coach, and is full of energy, wisdom and humour.
Holly Shute, a breast cancer survivor from Nova Scotia, will take on the role of peer for the first time this year. Holly was part of Retreat East 2009 and has also been connected ever since. Her calm and soft voice will ease any anxiety.
Finally, Bonnie Lang, wife of Mikey and huge supporter of the young adult community, will join as a peer with the experience of a supporter. Besides being an inspiring personal trainer, Bonnie is kind, understanding, and a great listener.
That is our Retreat East 2011 team in a nutshell. Their presence will guarantee a successful event and we thank them in advance for giving us of their time and love.
Stay tune for some news from our peers themselves!
Posted on Mar 02, 2011 - 04:13 PM by Karine
Are you interested in attending Retreat Yourself and want to tell your friends about it? Have you attended before and would like to spread the word to more young adults diagnosed with cancer? Email them the Retreat Yourself poster, post it on your website, or contact us and we'll send you some to post where people who need this program will see them.
Canada is a big country and reaching out to all the young adults out there is a challenge. We say it often, but too many people don't know about YACC and what we do.
We get emails every week from young adults who have just found our website and felt connected by reading profiles or an interesting article. We want to reach more and more of those young survivors all over.
Retreat Yourself is a wonderful opportunity for those who just found YACC to get connected on a deeper level with the organization and the community.
So wherever you are, if you have a minute to print a few posters and post them where you think they can help, that would be so great. You are a survivor and you have an appointment at the cancer centre, bring a few with you and give those to a social worker or a nurse. You are a professional working with this population, print some and post those on bulletin boards or even better, email the poster to any group you know could help or benefit.
We want to make sure young adults with cancer can access all the information we have to offer and can benefit from this amazing experience.
Click on this link for the PDF verson of the poster: PDF and email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like some physical posters. Please include your mailing address and the number of posters you would like.
We already have 12 survivors registered but still have plenty of spaces to fill.
Thank you for your help and for encouraging others to try this program!
Posted on Feb 21, 2011 - 11:37 AM by angie
Do any of the following bullets apply to you?
If any of the above apply to you, Retreat Yourself might be what you need!
Retreat Yourself is designed primarily for those who have only been out of treatment for a short time and who have a lot of questions about their cancer.
This doesn't mean you won't get a lot out of the experience if you have been out of treatment for a long time or if you thought you handled it all pretty well. People from various stages of survivorship have attended the weekends and gotten more out of it than they expected. If you think Retreat Yourself isn't for you, contact Karine at email@example.com and she'll fill you in on our other programs.
Cancer hits hard whatever your age, but when it happens in your young adult years, it has a whole different meaning. Isolation becomes your roommate and your world is put on hold and hung upside down. It does takes a lot of strength and courage to attend a Retreat, but we don’t know any other group of people who can kick ass and face challenges like young adults, so we know you can do it!
Because we are young, we do this in a relaxed and casual way. Retreat Yourself is not a clinic setting. We take time to connect, share, laugh and play.
Apply now if you're interested in attending.
Posted on Feb 14, 2011 - 01:32 PM by angie
We are pleased to announce we are ready to accept applications for the Retreat Yourself 2011 program. There will be two Retreats this year, and while you do have the option of applying to whichever you prefer, we recommend applying for the location closest to you to cut down on jet lag and travel time.
The first Retreat will be in Rocky Harbour, NL, from April 28-May 2. Rocky Harbour is on the western side of the province and is close to the beautiful Gros Morne National Park and world-renowned hiking trails. Icebergs usually start coming around that time and the venue is on the beach so there will be a lot of gorgeous scenery even if they don't show up.
Stay up to date with Retreat East 2011 here.
The second Retreat will be in Abbotsford, BC, at the Edenvale Retreat Centre from July 28-August 1. We have held a few Retreats at Edenvale and the venue is great and the staff is awesome. It's going to be hot in BC at the end of July but Edenvale has a lot of shady areas and an outdoor pool.
To stay informed on Retreat West, go here.
You are eligible if you were diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 35 and currently fall within that age range (roughly). You can also bring one person with you who supported you throughout your journey and/or who might gain insight into your experience by attending a Retreat. We throw out all inhibitions at Retreats and talk openly and frankly about our experiences so make sure you are comfortable telling your supporter everything before you invite them to come.
Space is limited with only about 23 spots for each Retreat so apply now to reserve your spot. The programs are free but we do request that you pay for your own travel to the Retreat (this is another good reason to pick the retreat on your side of the country). That said, we don't want money to be a reason people miss out on this program so we offer travel assistance for those who need it.
We are still working on the program but we will keep you in the loop through this blog and the two Retreat pages.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Posted on Feb 07, 2011 - 12:20 PM by angie
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society now offers programs for young adults aged 18 to 39 who are facing cancer. These programs include weekly online chats and periodic interactive webcasts.
Posted on Jun 15, 2010 - 11:34 AM by Lesley
Yes, Hello! I have been back in the office for a week since attending another amazing Retreat Yourself weekend (May 27-31, 2010). To this day, I still have a hard time summarizing our experience.
I procrastinated writing this blog; I felt challenged by it. I sat in front of the computer looking for ways to describe the past experience, and to do it in a different way than the 2009 Retreats. Believe me, easier said than done! Why? Because common values seem to be the base of every Retreat: Love, trust, safety, openness, authenticity. When you combine these elements, you get the essence of what a Retreat Yourself weekend is made of.
Because we had 23 courageous people who were able to attend; amazing facilitators who gave of their time, love, and energy; peers supporter who brought the extra touch; and a great location, the four days we spent together were transforming in many ways. I know most things I will verbalize here fall in the category "you had to be there" but it's still worth mentioning.
I am always amazed at how much beauty we see at Retreat Yourself. Someone mentioned we were not just connecting as individuals, our souls were connecting; I think it sums up well the general feeling. From silly games like Blockhead (you definitely had to be there for that one ), to real sharing of emotions, to working on masks, to spending time in the sauna and then jumping in the pool--everything contributed in making the weekend amazing and well-balanced.
Edenvale is a fantastic location, but mostly the team YACC had the chance to put together contributed a lot in putting in place what needed to be there. Our facilitators were incredible in making space to receive whatever was coming out of the group (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Together, we had time to talk about emotional health, relationships, finances, lifestyle changes, and loss and grief. Those discussions were always filled with honesty, laughter, and tears, again perfectly balanced (at least that's how people felt mostly because there was no judgment and respect underlined all our exchanges).
Because what you feel in your gut is hard to put on paper, I chose three pictures to express some of it.
A huge Thank you to: Janie Brown, Gilly Heaps, Danielle Shroeder, Jennifer Bos, Jen Luce, Maria Dizon, Danielle Wolff, and Bonnie Lang. Thank you also to Mike Lang. It was amazing and so easy to work with you Mikey. Thanks for helping ease me missing Lesley by bringing everything that you are to the Retreat.
Thank you also to Callanish Society for providing not only the human resources but also enough art material to have our creativity liberated!
Thank you to Edenvale and all the staff (Michele, Iris, Joseph, and everyone else) for welcoming us in your community and making us feel at home. Thanks also for your flexibility and your amazing meals!
Those of you reading this that never came to a retreat must be wondering: "when is the next one?" I know many people asked us if we will have a Retreat East of Canada and we are looking into it. Our dream is to find Edenvale's little brother or sister out east and work on making the event possible in 2011. The planning has started and we will keep you posted on our upcoming events.
If you want to donate to help make Retreat Yourself or any of our programs possible, please do, any little bit helps!
Next stop: Survivor Conference on the Rock part II. November 4-8, 2010. Be there or be square!
Posted on Jun 10, 2010 - 03:28 PM by Karine
We just got the 2010 Retreat Yourself shirts from the printer, after a few technical hiccups, but, we’re getting together all the details for Retreat Yourself next week.
Posted on May 17, 2010 - 02:51 PM by Duncan
2010 has not started yet, but already I know what I will be doing May 27-31, 2010! Do you?
Because our experience at the Edenvale Retreat Centre was so great last year, we booked our retreat with them again this year. Edenvale is a wonderful site with everything we need. The staff is amazing, the food healthy and tasty, and the location is charming.
Our team of facilitators will also be amazing this year. We are very fortunate to have the expertise and the support of wonderful ladies. For the second year in a row, Janie Brown, Executive Director of Callanish Society in Vancouver and counsellor, Jennifer Bos, our super nurse, and Danielle Lowe, counsellor and yoga instructor, will join us in the adventure.
Before registering, many people ask us what we do at Retreats. We will try and post more details soon, but here is some information that should help you get a better feel of what happens in those weekends.
The main purpose of the retreat is to meet people who understand what you are going through and to connect with them. We also reserve some time to share experiences, stories, the good times and the bad times.
We can split the Retreat in four big streams of activity:
1. Welcoming and Introduction: To start on the right foot, we take some time to get to know each other.
2. Small group discussions: Exchange on topics relevant to you and chosen by you. For example, in the past we had talks on relationships, family and friends, sexuality and intimacy, fear of recurrence, etc. The entire group decides on 4 main topics and we discuss each one throughout the weekend. Of course, many other discussions spontaneously happen all throughout the weekend, some serious and some lighter, and many of them fun.
3. Information and tools: We try and give you an update on the situation of young adult cancer survivors in Canada and also give you some tools to help you on your day to day life.
4. Free time: The free time is a mix of structured and non-structured activities. Depending on the weather, some people will just go out for a walk, swim in the pool, play basketball or volleyball, or just take a little afternoon nap. We also have a game night where we get together and play!
There are optional activities as well like Yoga sessions or meditation. We also have an art table available the entire weekend.
In short, this is what a retreat looks like, but we try to be flexible with our schedule. Every group we have is different and we adapt our activities accordingly.
Retreat Yourself West has limited space (23 maximum), so it's better to register sooner than later. For more information or to register.
Hope to meet you there!
Posted on Dec 04, 2009 - 12:49 PM by Karine
Last Monday, we got back from our second and last retreat of the year, taking place just outside of Vancouver at Edenvale Retreat Centre, from September 3-7, 2009. 23 courageous retreaters joined our team of professionals and peer supporters in the adventure.
Again, it was a very powerful weekend. Coming back, I always feel a bit weird and out of it for a couple of days. I think it's mainly due to being in this wonderful and comfortable bubble where people truly are beautiful. Being surrounded by accepting and welcoming people makes it easy to give the best of ourselves and mainly our real self. During this amazing weekend we witnessed true listening, honesty, vulnerability, strength, humour in the face adversity, perseverance, resilience and lots of love and understanding.
Those of you who have never been to a retreat must think it sounds like a 1970s movie made of peace and love, in the case of RYWest we might even say Dr. Love, and you would not be wrong. The only differences are fewer mustaches, better clothes and not just a movie, retreats are the about real life! Not to say that this would not make a great movie. We had a powerful opening circle mixed with laughter and some tears from people covering five different provinces (BC, AB, MB, ON, and NL). We also had the chance to benefit from the expertise of our facilitators (meditation, mindfulness, yoga, gentleness, patience, empathy, and so on). One of our peer supporters introduced an art table right from the beginning and some Mandala http://www.mandalaproject.org/What/Index.html canvas to work on. Retreaters showed creativity and expressed so much using colors, textures and words. Together, we created a wall of wisdom and beauty, it was quite inspiring.
Really, where can you hear quotes like: "My hope will die after I do" and "Cancer does not define me." Sometimes, the most difficult paths lead to the most beautiful views. The answer would be at Retreat Yourself.
Where can you not only hear powerful quotes, but also attend the 2009 Pool Olympics with unknown athletes doing unknown programs? Again, at Retreat Yourself West!
A big thank you to Callanish Society, especially Janie Brown for bringing along Danielle (our Yoga Goddess) and Sarah (our Mindfulness Queen) and for your generosity and countless help in making the retreat such a wonderful and peaceful success. Thank you Jenn Bos for being such an inspiring person (and amazing nurse). The way you care for each participant is beautiful!
Thank you also to Edenvale (especially Michele) who welcomed us like they knew us and made sure we were well taken care of and well fed (the food was truly amazing!).
We are now preparing for our next event, the Survivor Conference 2009 on the Rock bringing together over 50 young adults from across the country Survivor Conference 2009, and I will be using all the energy, inspiration and strength that were given at the retreat to put this event together. Thank you all for being you.
Posted on Sep 15, 2009 - 12:42 PM by Karine
I wanted to take some time today to congratulate our wonderful Program Director, Karine Chalifour.
As most of you know Karine was an import from the great city of Montreal. She has attended our retreats and conferences in the past, as a very kind and professional facilitator. But in February of this year, she decided to make a big change in her life and move to St. John's to become a new member of the YACC team. And we are so glad she did!
Two weeks ago Karine hosted her first Retreat Yourself program with 18 wonderful, and equally fabulous, retreaters! She did this with heart, passion (a little bit of stress) and lots of smiles!
As a past Program Director, I know the time and energy it takes to put together an event such as Retreat Yourself. Therefore I wanted to send out a huge congratulations (and thanks) to Karine for making this year's Retreat Yourself East extra special!
From all of us who benefited from your hard work, passion, support, compassion, and beautiful smile during this very powerful weekend -- a huge THANK YOU!
Montreal; you are missing out, but we have her and we are not giving her back!
Posted on Aug 07, 2009 - 04:02 PM by Lesley
September 3-7, 2009 in Vancouver…Did you register yet?
If you are on the fence about registering. Here is a testimonial from one of our retreaters from our last Retreat Yourself weekend. Hope it inspires you.
"Can I get a hey hey!"
By the time I arrived at the retreat on Thursday afternoon, I wanted to leave. I’d talked more about cancer in that afternoon than I had in the last eight years since I was diagnosed. It was all around me. Every time I turned around, I was faced with it. Little did I know at the time that because of that, I would leave on Monday a new, happier person. Over the course of the weekend we laughed a lot, and we also cried, a lot. We talked about self-identity, relationships, sex, fear of recurrence, and getting back into life after treatment. Hard discussions, all of them. But my God, were they worth it. I shared so much shit during the weekend, and I can’t tell you how cathartic it was to finally get that stuff out of my head and into the open. What really made the weekend was the support. Not just of the facilitators and peer supporters, which was great, but the support of other cancer survivors. We were all so open and honest with each other. People were sharing intimate details of their lives that would never ordinarily be discussed with someone you just met. But it was different here. The love that flowed around the rooms was palpable. It made it possible to begin to heal from over 8 years of heartache and sadness.
And the best part? I wasn’t alone anymore. I was sitting in a room with 20 other people who knew what chemo felt like, who knew what it was like to feel so incredibly isolated, who really, truly got it. Of course, we also had time for lots of laughs. We played a 40 person game of Pictionary one night that left me having to draw “erectile dysfunction.” Have you ever had to draw that? Ha, it was hilarious. Another night we sang Pearl Jam songs around a bonfire, and on our last night we did a talent show. I have videos of the talent show, but you can’t hear what anyone is saying because all you can hear is me laughing so hard I nearly fell off my chair about a dozen times. By the time Monday morning came around and we all found ourselves back at the airport, I didn’t want to leave. There were more tears, and lots of exchanging of e-mail addresses and Facebook account info. I truly feel like I’ve made friends that will last me a life time. I feel like I can’t even put into words what a truly positive and life-changing experience this was for me, but there’s my best attempt anyways.
Posted on Aug 07, 2009 - 12:22 PM by Karine
For the past four years, Hope & Cope, a volunteer-based organization located in Montreal offering support to patients living with cancer, has helped YACC organize Retreat in Quebec with their generous donation. Not only the organization helps financially, but through the support of his Executive Director Suzanne O'Brien, this organization has helped us grow by providing their expertise, counsel and participation to many of YACC's events.
Suzanne herself, as well as other staff members of the Wellness Center and volunteers of the organization participated in the planning and the facilitation of our Retreats and Conferences. Words are often insufficient to express gratitude, but to everybody at YACC's and for all the Retreaters who have attended an event in the past, we want to say thank you!
Debbie Bridgeman, a volunteer at Hope & Cope, chair of the Young Adult Division, and three time cancer survivor joined us Sunday night at our last retreat to receive a plaque honoring the contribution of Hope & Cope.
Posted on Jul 31, 2009 - 03:47 PM by Duncan