Young adults with cancer can retreat for free thanks to Cedars Cancer Foundation
by Rhonda Massad
In 2007 Cedars CanSupport initiated summer retreats for those participating in their support groups for young adults between the ages of 18 to 39 years old. The first retreat had eight participants.
In recent years the retreat has been opened up to any young adult living with cancer, either in active treatment or post treatment. Participation numbers have increased to 30 adolescents and young adults (AYA) enjoying three days to connect with their peers.
“Retreats help heal your spirit, recharge, offer tranquility, respite and just make you feel a little less alone. It is a truly life-changing experience that is very meaningful and empowering,” participant Laura Loebenberg said of the experience.
The retreat, entirely funded by the Cedars Cancer Foundation, takes place at L’Auberge at Jouvence, a resort in Mont-Orford National Park, an hour and half out of Montreal.
In addition to group activities focused on the theme of acceptance, retreaters can enjoy hiking, boating, swimming, hot tubbing, a ropes course, volleyball and board games.
This summer leaders will include Dr. Genevieve Chaput of the Cancer Survivorship program at the MUCH, Dr. Christopher MacKinnon, a psychologist in the palliative care unit at the MUHC, Emily Drake, Director of CancerFightClub, an initiative of Hope & Cope (Jewish General Hospital/McGill University), and Ruth Wani, the relaxation and meditation specialist at CanSupport along with Cedars CanSupport Program Coordinator Jennifer Finestone.
According to Finestone there are workshops on the common issues of cancer survivors, using stories to get in touch with what matters most, mindfulness and relaxation sessions as well as free time so that participants can connect with one another.
“We try to accommodate the needs of different AYAs have different abilities, we know that many are living with side effects due to treatment, and that these can persist long afterward,” Finestone explained to The Suburban. “Essentially, we want all the participants to have a chance to connect with others who get it, to feel empowered, and to have a great time.”
“Sometimes we find that the most helpful moments of the retreat are conversations over meals, either with other young adults or informally with professionals,” she said.
Registration for the July 3rd to July 5th retreat will take place until this Friday, June 12.
“I encourage people to register, but I understand if people need to cancel at the last minute due to medical concerns,” Finestone explained.
For more information call or email Jennifer Finestone at 514-934-1934 x 35297, Jennifer.Finestone@muhc.mcgill.ca. .