New centre for cancer patients and their supporters
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | April 13, 2017|
A newly-established non-profit organization in Haliburton County is lending support to people living with cancer and their primary support person.
It’s called Abbey Retreat Centre (ARC), is on the grounds of Abbey Gardens, and recently held its first ever residential retreat.
Joy Davey, who is the ARC board chair, said they had 10 participants between a Thursday night and Sunday afternoon and, “It went very, very well. We were very pleased with how the retreat experience went and how the various components fell into place.”
Davey said discussions about what is now ARC began about two years ago and they are now formally incorporated.
“The whole idea of the retreat is to help them to deal with the stressors that are connected with living with cancer,” Davey said.
For example, they have a support group that meets every day for a couple of hours so people can talk about “the fears they run into, challenges, difficulties and the places where they are making important discoveries of what life is about.”
The board has also been networking with a series of health care and other professionals to come up with retreat programming.
She said there are day programs elsewhere, but to come and live together for three or four days, or even up to a week, “offers a whole different experience and allows people to drop into a much deeper level.
“We’ve put a lot of work into really developing a program and so this weekend was a chance to try out what we thought the best formula was. We will make minor adjustments on the way through.”
Davey said they are content in knowing certain components of the program are important.
“There’s lots of evidence about things to reduce stress. We know that stress is a major factor in people’s lives and in their health challenges. So, we try to create as healthy a living environment as possible that includes things such as yoga, meditation and conscious working with breath, support groups and contacts for people to share their cancer journeys with other people who are dealing with cancer.”
Davey said there is a lot of emphasis on healthy eating and good cancer diets. She said one component is having a nutritionist come to talk about foods that are advised and foods that are not advised. One member of the ARC team is a naturopathic oncologist from the Barrie area. He led a session outlining the naturopathic practices that, along with traditional treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, provide an integrative approach to cancer treatment.
During the first retreat, they had four women come and do therapeutic touch.
One client left a written testimonial simply stating, “Sincerely one of the most enriching experiences I’ve had in a very long time.”
Davey said she and her husband ran a similar retreat space in New York State for 20 years so “come with lots of experience.” She said they represent a group of people, many of whom have been involved in the Abbey Gardens Community Trust (AGCT). Abbey Retreat Centre will have its home in the to-be-renovated former home of the Hewitt family located at the rear of the AGCT property.”
The Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC) recently granted the ARC $18,000.
Its chairman, Andrew Hodgson, said, “We are thrilled to be able to be a participant in this exciting project. We feel it will be a wonderful addition to our community. Very exciting. It will bring a lot of positive attention, as a national leader in this field, to our county. Not only benefiting the clients, but our economy as well. Congratulations to Abbey Gardens for their initiative and vision for allowing our community to host such a wonderful centre.”
There are only two other centres in Canada doing this type of work, Davey said, one in British Columbia and one in Alberta. She said it was unique to Eastern Canada and they hope to become “the place people go to for this type of service.”
Davey said they were “looking forward to a wonderful future in the Haliburton area.” For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.