“What is your hope for this weekend?” That’s the question that kicks off our big circle sharing at our annual former guest retreat. We pass around the squishy talking heart and everyone has an opportunity to share. Or not. The responses include – to get more information, to free the emotion that’s stuck in my chest, to talk to other women who get it because there’s no one to talk to at home, to see the friends I met at the house, and there are always women who can’t speak because tears flow instead of words.
I am always inspired by the annual former guest retreat. It’s my privilege to plan this event with our friends from Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada. It is amazing to see the impact that less than 48 hours has on the women who attend.
This year we met in Jasper and the majestic Rocky Mountains were the backdrop to our retreat. Mother Nature is a beautiful healer. The main topics of discussion at the retreat focus on the new normal, body image and relationships, grief and loss. The retreat offers a safe place to talk about anything from how cancer buzz words (“survivor”, “journey” and “the ribbon”) can trigger emotions…to the lingering effects of chemo brain…to survivor guilt…to what’s up with this new facial hair?! No topic is taboo.
We also close the retreat with big circle sharing. This time participants are asked to answer “how do you feel right now." One word. The answers; blessed, grateful, healed, loved, supported, inspired, rejuvenated, connected, happy, at peace…
Thank you to the 30 beautiful women, former house guests, for sharing your laughter, tears, hopes and fears. Until next year.