The buzz definitely went around quickly following the 1st Oncology moms retreat put on by the patient parent advocate for oncology, Suzanne Dunbar and funded by Balding for Dollars and Power to Be, which was held in September of 2018. We had moms asking how to “get on the list” for the next one right away! So of course, it was no question to make this an annual thing, provided we have the funds each year, which are generously fundraised and donated by amazing individuals and companies throughout the year at our events!

Our 2nd Annual Oncology Moms Retreat was held on September 27th – 29th, 2019, in partnership with Power to Be, another amazing not for profit that aims to provide adventures rooted in nature for those who are less able or have some kind of barrier. Eight moms headed to Merritt, to stay in a beautiful lodge for the weekend for some much needed relaxation, to disconnect (as much as they could) from their “cancer-world”, and connect with each other!

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One of the things we hear so often, especially from the women who are care providers for a child with cancer, is that they don’t have the time to take care of themself, or they think of themself last, often having to take care of other healthy children (a demanding job as it is), a spouse, and household on top of their sick child. And the biggest word that gets thrown around, if they even have a moment to think of themselves, or do something for themself, is GUILT. They feel guilty spending money, or time on themself because for some reason it feels that the priority is wrong, or even impossible to accomplish with so many other things to think or worry about, and do. BUT we know that in order to be a present, good,and healthy caregiver, you need to practise self-care when you can. Even if it’s moments in a quiet, dark space to shut your eyes and take some deep breaths or have a hot tea, or getting someone to step in for a couple of hours to take a hike, or yoga class, or get a pedicure every now and then. AND it’s allowing yourself to feel the burden of guilt lift if you go away for an entire weekend even, like on this moms retreat, because we promise you will be more rested, energized, and your best self when you return to being the amazing caregiver you are.

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These moms experienced first hand, in allowing themself this time to enjoy and focus on themselves, just how healing it can be. There were some tears and much laughter as moms began to open up and share their stories!

Throughout the weekend, they had some amazing healthy food, enjoyed some hot bubble baths, played games, made crafts, and did some therapeutic adult colouring. They went on a beautiful nature walk and enjoyed a pampering spa day complete with tapas and some non-alcoholic bubbly! They were even surprised road side by some wild horses and a little early dusting of snow! It was so beautiful and serene.

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Here is a quote from one of the Moms who attended: “I found the weekend to be fun, relaxing, therapeutic, energizing, and the setting was beautiful.” I think that sentiment was felt by all the moms who attended the retreat, yet they all experienced it in their own ways.

Want to join us on our next retreat? Contact Suzanne at sdunbar@cw.bc.ca for more information.

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