Birmingham based Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center (Forge) and The Deep South Cancer Foundation (DSCF) recently partnered to help meet a very important need among metastatic breast cancer survivors in our community. Forge and DSCF hosted “A Journey of Courage and Hope,” the first retreat for metastatic breast cancer survivors in our region. “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. 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” said Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, a two-time breast cancer survivor and an expert in the field of metastatic breast cancer from Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The free retreat was an opportunity for women and the women who support them to retreat from the routines of treatment and daily life to experience a program of individual and mutual healing and renewal. Within the safe environment, attendees had the opportunity to address and confront fears. Activities included a letter writing session in which each survivor/co-survivor pair wrote positive things that came out of their relationship that most likely would not have if there had not been a cancer diagnosis. 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, Ala. where attendees enjoyed large porches, grounds including a lake, outdoor labyrinth, spiritual center and chapel as well as community spaces for group sessions.
Learn more about opportunities like this as well as other resources available to survivors and co-survivors of breast cancer visit www.forgeon.org. Forge will host volunteer training for individuals who would like to offer support to breast cancer survivors and their loved ones November 9-10. Details at www.birminghamchristian.com/events. †