|I found my first retreat online by googling breast cancer and yoga weeks after my diagnosis. I attended my first retreat in July 2011 just 4 weeks after my surgery and it has forever changed my life in so many ways. Mohonk was my third retreat and I have already made strong bonds with women in this amazing community. I am touched by each person’s story and inspired to be stronger and continue my path of healing. Mohonk was extra special because it allowed me to spend time with my family in NY before and after the retreat on a very difficult weekend. It would have been my brother’s 46th birthday but he passed 4 years ago Sept. 14th. I have also been wanting to visit my 94 year old grandmother who has not been well and she lives just over an hour from the retreat. September is also the time for my 6 month follow-up visits with doctors and tests (1 1/2 years since cancer) and having this retreat to look forward to kept me sane in a very challenging month. Mohonk is a magical place and everyone who worked on the retreat was so incredible. I felt loved, nurtured and cared for throughout and especially in the yoga sessions. Each retreat I reminded how healing yoga is and continue to feel empowered knowing that I can be an active participant in my healing process. I am also a yoga teacher and was so inspired by Tari after my first retreat that I enrolled in her training. I received the gift of being asked to assist on my second retreat and look forward to continuing to assist on future retreats. I can’t thank Tari, Amie, Denise, Sadara and the entire staff enough for what I receive at each retreat.
– Sharon, California
Since my diagnosis I’ve felt displaced and detached from my family, friends and colleagues. For the first time I felt normal among a community of women who understood my experience – past, present and future. Learning yoga postures – which I can do despite difficulty raising arm from surgery and radiation -, as well breathing and meditation techniques, I now have tools to gain physical and emotional strength. I am no longer a cancer patient but instead a warrior ready for a lifetime of fighting to live, laugh, love and be present. Thank you to Tari, Denise and the Retreat Project Team!
-Mitchelle, New Jersey
Y4C has helped me in many ways. The retreat was an extension of the profound ways that this program has changed my perspective on life. The retreat itself boosted my confidence in terms of my physical abilities. I look foreward to the yoga teacher training and then the Y4C training so that I can bring this gift to other people who have been afflicted with this disease.
– Andrea, New York City
TESTIMONIAL ABOUT A FALL THREE-DAY YOGA RETREAT
What would you expect when you walk into a roomful of women with breast cancer? A bunch of older, morose women? Lots of anger, tears and pitiful faces? Well, you haven’t been around enough women with breast cancer. I recently attended a three day yoga retreat put on by the Libby Ross Foundation for women with breast cancer. Though most refer to themselves as survivors, I prefer to refer to us as warrior queens, women of exquisite strength and grace!
My friend Connie had attended one of these retreats last year and insisted I had to go, even though she would be unable to go with me. My first inclination when walking into a group of strangers is to mentally pigeon hole and label the different types of people and to see with whom I have the most in common. At first glance this was not easy as there were such a variety of women there, young, old and in-between. Some had outward signs that they were dealing with cancer: wigs, head scarves, recently returning hair. Some looked like they were tri-athlete competitors; some looked like the average every day woman you see on the street. One thing I did notice about most of the women there: their smiles. The retreat promised three days of pampering and yoga, but as we introduced ourselves to the group there was more of a commonality that we were there to connect with other women battling this disease and to give and receive strength from the bond that had unfortunately united all of us. In the capable hands of the two instructors, who both have a connection to breast cancer, we breathed, stretched, moved and breathed some more. There was no coddling and pitying of our situations, just adaptations to our unique abilities. We were encouraged and sometimes pushed to learn what we were capable of, not what we were not. We were also taught how to calm and restore our energies, spirits and sense of well being. Though most of the time was spent learning and practicing the art of yoga, during meals and free time we could get to know each other and learn who everyone was, how breast cancer had affected us, who each of us were before and after our diagnosis’s.
Personally, what I got from each of my new friends and sisters varied with each woman I got to know. Some of the women were so energetic and joyful that I could feel my own energy and joy grow with each moment I spent with them. There were several women whose constant giggles embedded in me a lighter sense of my own struggles and I loved them for that. Some women, who were more on the spiritual side, bestowed to me a calmness and an inner connection to my own spirit and hope.
Others, whose inner strength radiated outward, helped me find my own strength. Even those whose illness made them appear more vulnerable, seemed to allow me, and others, to feel free to express our own fears and not feel ashamed or weakened by them. Though I’ve classified some of these women by certain attributes, the real truth is that each had a little bit of the spiritual, vulnerable, strong, joyful, and, especially when encouraged by our yoga instructors, energetic side of them! I think we instinctively knew what someone else needed and gave that part of ourselves to encourage what someone else needed at the moment of our interaction. Our three hosts, Lori, Gabby and Kathryn, made it their mission to make sure that each and everyone felt relaxed, papered and cared for. The facilities were wonderful, the food exquisite and the little treats and goodies were all very much appreciated. I can’t thank them enough for sponsoring this event where all but transportation and accommodations were provided by the foundation. Yet, each time we thanked them, they insisted on thanking us for attending. These women gave their all and have lived up to the foundation’s mission and in doing so honored Lori’s mother, the name sake and inspiration of the foundation!
Before the retreat I stopped in Savannah to spend a few days visiting my mother. Due to her Alzheimer’s I felt I could not be completely frank with her about how I felt and how I was doing. It was torture. I don’t know if it was because she could not remember that I had told her of the cancer’s return and I didn’t think it was fair to constantly remind her of that, or because she taught me so well that I felt guilty lying to her each time she asked me how I was doing. I felt an acute need for her to be my mother, to put her arms around me and comfort me, but I couldn’t ask her for that, and it hurt. None of her children live nearby, but because of circumstances, I was able to visit more often. We are very similar and even as she lost much of whom she had once been, visiting her had always been pleasurable. She began to lean on me and I enjoyed doing things to help her, even though her stubbornness sometimes made doing so extremely frustrating. I hate that I cannot be there for her as my treatments and health make it increasingly more difficult. My siblings have stepped up, but she continues to let me know how much she misses me when I’m not there. So I have lost the ability to have the mother I need and be the caretaker I chose to become.
On a lighter note, here is an interesting fact I learned this weekend: Saline implants glow in the dark in a disco setting!
– Jean Holstein