For the last few years, 24 Foundation has funded a cancer wellness retreat at Wind River. Run by breast cancer survivor and longtime 24 Foundation rider Shannon Carney, the retreats focus on helping survivors slow down and learn tools to reduce the stress cancer has created in their lives.
Cheryl LeCroy, a Wind River alumni writes her story below. She shares how the retreat made an impact in her cancer journey.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was working full time, volunteering with several projects, running 4 days a week and taking care of three sons, ages 13, 11 and 8. Adding to an already over booked lifestyle were the doctors, chemo, acupuncture, and all that goes along with fighting cancer.
Through my treatments, I continued to work full time, missing only the days of chemo and scheduling myself according to when I “expected” my symptoms to hit. When I was presented with the opportunity to attend Wind River, I was so ready for a break from my hectic daily routine.
My retreat was in the fall of 2011 just after I had completed my 4th round of chemo. I had laryngitis as a side effect of my last treatment, and for the first two days, I couldn’t speak above a whisper. I’m not typically a quiet person and in hind sight, I’m glad that I didn’t have a voice so that I could listen more deeply.
When I first arrived at Wind River, I was still very much tightly wound, like a rubber band ready to snap. Although, I believed that I was cancer free, I had not slowed down enough to embrace the idea of being healed … I had actually not realized the need to slow down until I stepped out of the day to day activities of my life.
In the quiet mountains of North Carolina, surrounded by new friends, I developed such a desire to have real balance in my life and I wanted to learn to be more present for my three little boys. This thought resonated with me throughout the retreat and became my motivation.
… I remember sitting on the beautiful screened porch, deeply breathing in the crisp fall air and feeling more whole and more alive and more a part of nature than I have ever felt before. I took that feeling home with me. And although I still have a very busy and active life, I have learned ways to step out of the chaos to find peace in the moment. I still practice guided imagery, meditation, journaling and I am thankful that today I am cancer free, running 4 days a week and learning to be more present in the everyday life of three boys.
– Cheryl LeCroy