Need a Break From Cancer? How About a Cancer Camp?

by Jane Ashley

We’re probably all felt like this. We need a break from cancer. We want to take a vacation. But we’re in treatment or have recently finished treatment — money is too tight for even a short vacation. 

Under The Stars

Have you felt like this? Do you feel like this today?

There are answers for your need to have a break. The answer is, “What about a cancer camp or cancer retreat?”

What is a cancer camp?

The idea for a camp, trip or retreat for people with cancer began back in the 1980s with pediatric camps for children with terminal cancer. The idea took off and has grown into camps for children and adolescents. Just imagine being a teenager diagnosed with cancer — lipstick, makeup, dating and dreams about college — all suddenly derailed by cancer. Fortunately, these camps help teenagers make new friends and move forward.

I Need To Get Away

Now, there are many camps and retreats for adults too. Whether we are in treatment or are NED, the emotional and physical scars remain. Research confirms that connecting with the outdoors and nature promotes healing of the body and the soul.

Who can go to a cancer camp or retreat?

The simple answer is, “You!”

Most camps are low cost or no cost. Foundations and philanthropists fund scholarships for cancer patients and survivors. Camps are in almost every state. Some are for families. Others are for individuals.

How can you find a camp or retreat?

NeedyMeds is a nonprofit that provides information for affordable cancer-related resources. Their website features a section devoted to recreational resources, camps and retreats for adults with cancer.

Nancy’sList is another nonprofit, founded by a Stage IV ovarian cancer survivor. Her list of retreats is extensive.

Epic Experiences with Cancer offers summer and winter outdoor adventures.

Fly Fishing

Reel Recovery’s mission is to allow men living with cancer to experience a free fly-fishing retreat.

Cruising against Cancer is a nonprofit that raises money for cancer research and to provide free cruises for deserving families.

Dream Foundation provides Stage IV cancer patients with less than a nine-month life expectancy a free vacation to fulfill dreams and offer comfort.

Cross Country Skiing

All it takes is a little time at your computer. Google adult cancer retreat and the state where you live. You may find little known resources about an opportunity that might be just right for you or someone in your family.

Why are these activities so good for us?

The diagnosis of cancer is stressful. The treatment is strenuous and expensive. We get stuck in a rut. It feels like we are in the same old grind. Even if we are NED, we face the fear of recurrence and the financial hardships that linger after our treatment.

A camp, trip or retreat offers us a chance to “escape” our diagnosis for a while. It’s a chance to giggle and laugh and take photographs of a lifetime. A vacay is a vacation from reality. Who doesn’t need that?

A trip or break from your routine gives back to you in three ways.

Anticipation. We call this “anticipatory delight” — the pleasure we get from just knowing that we are going to be doing something special.
The trip itself. New sights and sounds. New restaurants and new foods that we’ve never tasted. Photo opportunities that bring delight in the moment. Who doesn’t love a sunset?

Memories and reliving those moments. Looking back on a trip brings joy that cheers us on those dark days. Reliving those moments through the photos floods us with those memories. If our loved one dies, we have those memories and photographs to comfort us.

What about those of us who don’t qualify for one of these adventures?

Never underestimate the value of a day trip. It can be as simple as meeting a good friend for lunch and lots of conversation. It might be a fishing trip with your buddy from work.

Ten great ideas for a day trip include:
Botanical garden.
Military Museum.
Spa day.
The zoo.
An aquarium.
A nearby state park.
Wildlife Preserve.
Historic house or church tour.
Thrift shops and antique stores.

Whatever your circumstances, never underestimate the power of a change in scenery. And if you need a vacation because of your cancer diagnosis, check out these resources and let all of us at WhatNext hear about your trip.

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