I had planned on going to an Image Reborn retreat in November, but we had too many things going on and I ended up not making it. November was a tough time for me, I was slowly getting my energy back from chemo and radiation. I had promised my nurse Vicki that I would go to one of the retreats (plus I can’t complain about spending a lovely weekend in Park City, considering the last time I stayed up there was when I broke out in a full body rash). This weekend was the retreat that I was finally able to go to. They had even had some last minute cancellations so two amazing women that I know and adore were able to come up this weekend and keep me company.
I learned the couple of days before the retreat how much less I had been thinking about breast cancer because I was suddenly thinking about it a lot more (which is why I called this post “A Trip Back to Cancertown”). I knew that I would be spending the weekend talking about breast cancer with other women, and that we would all be coming from different stages and different lives. The one thing we had in common: breast cancer had impacted us.
I drove up to Park City with Michelle who has been my friend, and hero, throughout my treatment. When we arrived we were graciously invited in and allowed to explore the gorgeous hilltop Park City mansion tucked away in a bunch of aspens. Michelle and selected the guest room at the bottom of the house (which we soon discovered that the many flights of stairs to the main living area would be a great method for working off all of the munching we would be doing all weekend). After we got settled in, the other ladies arrived (there were a total of seven women there this weekend). We then had dinner (which involved salmon, if you know me well, I hate fish… but I gave it a chance and it was actually pretty tasty). My surgeon Dr. Leigh Nuemayer spent time with us and had dinner answering questions everyone had about breast cancer (my main one was what “extensive” meant in my lab reports about the DCIS I had, the short version of the answer I got was that it means my breasts were good at making cancer).
Dr. Nuemayer brought everyone a copy of her book Meet Virginia (<– the site is graphic), it is about the initial type of mastectomy that I had, my reconstruction was a different kind from the book. Dr. Neumayer noted that only 25% of women that have a mastectomy choose to have reconstruction and works hard to educate women about their reconstruction options (hoping that more women will choose to have reconstruction). We stayed up late chit chatting and all wandered off into our own sleeping areas.
Saturday we woke up and had breakfast in our pajamas (this is a retreat right? That means we should stay comfortable!). Breakfast was served by a nutritionist that was involved in a study about diet and its impact on breast cancer recurrence. She touted carrot juice as a major part of the diet and make us carrot/peach/ginger juice that was actually pretty tasty, she even snuck some flax seed into it. After that several of us opted to go for a walk and once we were about 30 minutes into walking I realized that I forgot to bring sunscreen and that I was starting to burn. We turned around and headed back up to the house so that my rudolph nose wouldn’t burn anymore than it had. We relaxed, had lunch and then enjoyed an AMAZING facial and massage.
After a really nice dinner (with dessert of course, life is too short to not eat dessert). We had an art project that kept us occupied for the rest of the evening. We were asked to create collages about our breast cancer journey. Sunday morning we shared our collages and explained them with each other. We then had portraits taken (luckily one of the ladies was nice enough to let me borrow some foundation to tone down rudolph).
I was also excited to discover that Michelle and I both had recently decided to work on our photography skills. Mike bought me a new/used Nikon recently that I have been learning to use. Here are some of the photos I took this weekend:
Notice how my red face is excluded from this photo set?