This past October, Lung Cancer Initiative funded Wind River Cancer Wellness Retreats & Program’s first-ever virtual Lung Cancer Survivor Retreat. The retreat invited lung cancer survivors to explore creative ways to feel more peaceful and rejuvenated by engaging in healing arts, mindfulness, and laughter. The 10-day virtual retreat proved to be a success in fulfilling its mission to help "Rekindle, Reclaim, & Restore the magic in YOU," for all of the survivors in attendance.
The Wind River Lung Cancer Survivor Retreat aims to support lung cancer survivors by providing them with coping mechanisms to enhance their quality of life while battling lung cancer. Through the retreat programming, the Wind River staff uplifts survivors with techniques to battle stress, tools to check in on their well-being, and a community of other survivors that truly understand what it means to live with a lung cancer diagnosis. This no-cost program is designed to encourage lung cancer survivors to “further explore their cancer journey, focusing on living more fully and authentically - mind, body, and spirit.”
The virtual retreat in 2020 looked a little different from previous years. Participants received daily wellness emails and logged into interactive Zoom sessions where Wind River staff taught evidence-based stress-reducing techniques that improve overall mental health. Prior to the start of the program, participants received a box of wellness items that corresponded with the group activities. “This experience made me see my cancer story with fresh eyes,” said one lung cancer survivor who attended the retreat. “My story doesn't have to be about the past suffering, it can be focused on my present recovery and sharing my story of survival with others.”
Here are a few highlights of the 2020 Virtual Lung Cancer Retreat’s program:
To promote one-on-one connection during the virtual program, Wind River added a buddy system to the retreat this year. The buddy system paired each participant with an alum from a previous Lung Cancer Retreat. The buddy system allowed the new attendees to confide in an experienced alumnus and proved to help attendees form positive connections by sharing their personal experiences of being a lung cancer survivor. We have heard from survivors that many of the buddy pairings (and the whole group as well!) continue to stay in touch.
Shannon Carney and Dave Pschirer, co-founders of Wind River Cancer Wellness Retreats & Programs, were happy to share that attendees reported a greater sense of well-being, a decrease in anxiety, and a greater sense of community after the retreat This virtual retreat proved that even in these uncertain times when we cannot be together in-person, we can still come together and make a difference in each other’s lives through community.