The Stretch Heal Grow retreat was exactly what I needed during a time of so much uncertainty in my life.

I started articling at a law firm exactly one month after I had finished treatment in July 2016. I was so focused on moving forward after my ten months of treatment, that all I wanted to do was start working again. It was challenging but every week I was building up more stamina. The day after I finished articling, in May 2017, I was required to have major surgery to fix my reconstruction. I felt like I had taken a huge step back in my healing because I was unemployed and sick again.

Fast forward a few months and it was time for Stretch Heal Grow. My retreat started with a three-hour car ride to Muskoka from Toronto carpooling with three other women. The car ride flew by with continuous discussions about all our similar experiences. We already felt comfortable with each other after only a few hours.

The retreat was filled with everything I needed to heal physically and emotionally – healthy food, beautiful landscape, yoga, meditation and sharing with other women who just “get it”.

The mornings began with yoga led by Leo. She was so knowledgeable and knew exactly what stretches were best for us, taking into account the trauma we experienced and the ongoing side effects, especially what would help with lymphedema. The perfect way to start each day.

After yoga we had meditation led by Jil. Throughout the last couple of years, I have tried to meditate but I find it so hard. I wanted to experience the entire retreat though, so I went to her sessions with an open mind. I left feeling rejuvenated and more connected to the other women. Jil was a great facilitator who explained that meditation is not just about having a clear mind, but rather, acknowledging your thoughts and feelings. Once I understood that, it became so much easier for me to enjoy. I still use the techniques Jil taught us in my everyday life.

The retreat occurred at a time when I needed it the most – a year post active treatment and yet still dealing with the emotional after-effects. A cancer diagnosis, and the repercussions of that, don’t just end when treatment ends – I will forever be impacted. The women at the retreat understood this, creating a comforting and supportive community that will hopefully last a lifetime. I am so grateful to have been a part of something so meaningful. I left with a full heart.

Emily Piercell


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