“Nah, I’m not going to go, other women need it more than me. I only had surgery and medication.” This was my response to my new friend, Michelle, when she asked if I would go with her to this free retreat for breast cancer survivors. Michelle had a way of talking straight to my soul. In that moment she reminded me that any cancer diagnosis is still a traumatic experience. I had still been told that I might be dying, that I would need 9 months of treatment, and was facing the biggest challenge I had to date. So I agreed to go, because she was coming and I would feel more comfortable with an ally.
It was 2020, a hard year for everyone. Unfortunately, I lost my dear friend before we were supposed to come to the retreat – and then it was canceled anyway, due to covid.
In 2021 I was invited to come back. I wrestled with it, for the same reasons. Do I still want to go without my girl? I decided that yes, I needed to come. I needed to do it for Michelle and for myself. Wow, am I glad that I took that leap of faith and registered for the event.
This retreat is run by women who genuinely care about their fellow survivors. I have never felt more pampered than I did that weekend. We were housed in a beautiful mansion in Dillon, right off the path of the Dillon Reservoir. The rooms were beautiful and quiet. They took food allergies seriously (some of them have celiac, so they understand). And there was a perfect balance of “group time”, fun time, and personal time. The hot tub felt amazing and the service providers they had coming had the warmest hearts. I am still friends with some of the women I met that weekend.
That weekend I was able to share that I also serve the same community as a cancer exercise specialist. I was THRILLED when they asked me to come and serve at a future retreat. I love being able to give back to people and groups that have been a part of my own healing.
I have had the honor of people able to teach future groups about Lymphedema and what we can do during exercise to prevent it. We have led hikes on the beautiful trails nearby and guided survivors through safe exercise sessions. One of my favorite memories was when one participant was telling me about all of her hurdles left over from cancer. It was in ALL of her bones and she had lost sight in one eye. I had planned a partner exercise to stand on one leg and play catch. I had a plan B in my mind in case it was too challenging for her, but we didn’t need it. She did it! Oh man, I wish you could see the expression on her face when she accomplished something she didn’t think she would be able to do. This is why I do what I do. At Move Conquer Live, I want women to feel confident, I want them to learn to trust their bodies again and most of all, I want them to feel strong. These types of wins are my favorite!
Thank you Image Reborn, for taking such good care of us. It has been a real blessing to be able to experience both sides of the coin, as a participant and a service provider. Thank you!
Written by Terri Ross, Cancer Exercise Specialist and Owner of Move Conquer Live www.mclgym.com