Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center (Forge) and The Deep South Cancer Foundation (DSCF) recently hosted “A Journey of Courage and Hope”, the first retreat for metastatic breast cancer survivors in the region. The retreat was an opportunity for the survivors and the women who support them to get away from the daily routines of treatment and experience a program of individual and mutual healing and renewal.
“These retreats are incredibly meaningful in meeting the needs of women who are approaching the end of life and want to connect with others, discuss their fears, make plans for the future, and come away feeling more prepared for what lies ahead,” said Retreat Facilitator Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS. “Together participants discover new strength. These women are survivors, even though they will never know the joy and relief of being disease-free. It is an opportunity to support women with metastatic breast cancer in a unique and meaningful way.”
Shockney, of Johns Hopkins Hospital, is a two-time breast cancer survivor and an expert in the field of breast cancer, and metastatic breast cancer.
Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body. Metastatic breast cancer has a primary tumor site in the breast and is often referred to as Stage IV; it does not yet have a cure. It is reported that an estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer.
The retreat provided an environment for all to address and confront fears. The letter writing session was a particularly powerful time. Each survivor/co-survivor pair wrote words that came out of their relationship that most likely would not have if they had not received a cancer diagnosis. For example, Nancy, a caregiver, wrote, “My dear companion Sharon, I am deeply grateful to be traveling this road with you along with huge realities that present themselves. All of life and living and all of death and dying.”
The retreat was held at the Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center in Cullman, AL, which offered a beautiful and peaceful refuge.
Caroline McClain, manager of Forge, said, “We are honored to offer this unique program that allows those walking along a similar journey to develop a community that will support each other throughout the rest of their life. Forge exists to provide exactly what survivors and co-survivors need, when they need it and how they need it; it is inspiring to see how this retreat is doing just that.”
Forge assists survivors and co-survivors in taking an active role in their fight against breast cancer by offering support, knowledge, strength and direction. Through Forge, all those touched by breast cancer can bond with others to Forge a new future. www.forgeon.org; 1-800-811-8925
The Deep South Cancer Foundation partners with individuals and families at a local level to overcome the daily barriers created by cancer. www.deepsouthcancer.org