Last weekend I was blessed to be a part of an incredible weekend retreat in Park City, Utah. Image Reborn Foundation offers retreats to breast cancer THRIVERS and I attended a one that was specifically for "young survivors". While I was one of the oldest participants (I'm 43 in case you were wondering), I felt like it was where I needed to be and the women who were there were amazing.
Never mind that Park City had something like 2 feet of snowfall while we were there and it was a mere 9 degrees on Sunday morning before I had to board the plane to return to sunny, WARM Tennessee. The snow was absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't believe views - the mountain terrain, ski slopes and unbelievable homes in the area. We were fortunate to stay in a "cabin" that had a fireplace in just about every room. It was about 10,000 square feet and was fabulous!
Our hostess, Shelia, made us feel pampered and loved. She is truly a generous and precious soul and I feel grateful that I was able to meet her and her sweet daughter. There were rules that we were required to follow: 1.) don't carry your own bags...anywhere and 2.) don't do anything (like clearing the table, cleaning up the dishes, etc). This is a woman who works full-time elsewhere and manages to pull together about 11-13 retreats each year. Shelia is an angel here on earth!
Image Reborn (with the help of Sheila) provided us with time to rest, time to connect and also time to be restored. One way was by offering us each a chair massage and facial. We were also thrilled to have almost two hours working with someone who shared the benefits of restorative yoga with us. She generously allowed us to take video of her so that we could practice some of the poses that she taught us. Now we can go to our (private) Facebook group and view the video whenever we need a refresher.
During lunch on Saturday we had the opportunity to talk to a doctor who discussed some of the unique issues young breast cancer survivors (AKA thrivers) have to face, such as chemo-pause (chemo-induced menopause) and all of the side effects it offers, as well as fertility issues, the risks of facing other gynecological cancers, etc. He patiently answered our questions and used the word "vagina" more than I think I've ever used in my entire life. I think he helped us find some ways to manage the unpleasant side effects many of us are experiencing as well as how to potentially reduce some of our risk factors, if at all possible, or just face them head on. He even told us that we are free to call his office if we have questions later.
We had a chef who helped us prepare our Saturday evening meal and most of us, I think, were surprised to enjoy the chopped kale salad (I even prepared it tonight for my family). She joined us for dinner and shared information from her website. I was part of the prep for the Irish soda bread with caraway seeds and raisins and it was a hit. I didn't expect to like the raisins in a baked bread (for me raisins belong in oatmeal cookies or cereal), but it was a really good bread.
One other visitor to the cabin allowed us to discuss more private issues related to self-esteem and intimacy. She was amazing and, again, patiently answered our (many) questions and offered as much practical advice as she could. We were thrilled that she stayed to have dinner with us and chatted more and provided examples of simple ways to improve our lives. It was serious and fun all at the same time and I was so thankful for the time she spent with us.
I don't know what else to say about what Image Reborn gave to all of us last weekend. They gave me women who understood what I am dealing with right now. They gave us incredible accommodations in a beautiful part of the country. We learned a lot about how to live our lives despite being diagnosed with this stupid breast cancer. Friendships were formed and I feel so fortunate to have spent just a couple of days with such strong, loving, compassionate women.
Thank you Image Reborn Foundation. Please check out the link if you would like more information about their retreats or how to support what the foundation.