THE FIRST MINDFUL HEALTH GIVES RETREAT PARTICIPANT
Photo by Arun Devan
The room was full of people but something about this woman stood out. She was radiant. Smiling at everyone. Laughing with ease, and often, yet this was a fairly serious crowd. We were assigned seats and for the next lecture I was next to her. Her story was incredibly difficult, but her spirit literally soared. This woman, a virtual stranger, gave me the final push I needed to start Mindful Health Gives, a non-profit organization I created to serve caretakers, cancer survivors and patients.
We were at the Radical Remission workshop, which is based on a book by the same name. The workshop focused on the author’s case studies, which detailed why people heal from immense odds. The participants were a mix of cancer survivors, cancer patients, family members, and health professionals, all there to learn and grow, and support one another.
This woman that I have referenced, Dana, is currently battling her second round with breast cancer. She is probably in her mid thirties and she has 4 children, the oldest is 8 years old. Her second diagnosis came when her youngest was under a year old. When she shared her story at our small table, everyone-including those battling the same disease, got teary-eyed. A few even made insensitive comments like, “At least with my disease if I go I don’t have young children-but with you? Awful.” I heard their pity and I watched their fear attempt to seep into her psyche, and I felt angry. This is NOT what she needs to hear! She has SO much to live for and that is step one in overcoming any illness! She has a massive purpose, caring for those kids. All of this is key for her healing journey.
What amazed me most, was how she would just smile and say things like, “Of course I have my moments, but these kids need me so I am pushing forward and doing what I need to do.” But then she talked about her schedule, and how she could only go to this holistic clinic that she loves once a month. This is when I felt heart broken. The clinic was 90 minutes away and they were only open one Saturday per month and she worked full time. She was getting so much support there, but it was on such a limited basis.
This is where something like Mindful Health Gives will be so instrumental. We would offer her (and other cancer thrivers/survivors and caregivers) a free weekend retreat with a concentrated focus on healing through connection, nature, nutrition, mind-body connection, yoga, meditation, inspirational talks, and a ton of education that can support her current program. She would also have access to a group forum where will be posting articles and keeping people connected post retreat, as well as day events and webinars.
I have been through cancer with my mom. The bravest face isn’t always a reflection of someone’s true inner voice. Everyone needs a place to feel supported, where they can unload and not feel like they are “burdening a friend or family member.” This also goes for the caregivers who have to keep up their “regular” life while being there for the patient 100%. The common theme amongst both groups is that neither wants to be a burden. But being in a room of people who understand you, uplift you, and are there to help you heal, it’s like taking one huge cleansing breath.
I approached Dana during a break in our workshop. I told her about my idea for Mindful Health Gives and how I want her to be my first participant. She started sobbing. She gave me her email and I told her I have now made it my mission to find her soon.
Dana is far from the only one who needs this work. This mission is huge and so close to my heart. But we can’t do it without help. Sharing our content, our mission, and our donation page is a large help. Donating any amount-even $1 is also a tremendous help. Connecting us to people who may be like-minded or interested in this cause is also key. Can you help us?