I don't think "Thank you!" can truly express the gratitude that many of us often wish to express to those who are not in the business of treating cancer patients who give their hearts, time and love to those of us that have connected with the disease.
This past weekend, I and other survivors as well as some undergoing treatment had the enormous privilege of being swept away from the fear, sadness and pain of cancer we deal with daily. For the third year in a row, my friends Dr. and Mrs. Hanscy and Sandra Seide of Daytona Beach, Fla., along with their daughter Hope, opened their home to us for a retreat. Dr. Seide is a very prominent cardiologist in the area and they live in a beautiful (yes, mansion) home on the intra-coastal river.
Albeit a retreat... cancer is its heartbeat. This year's event was called "A Journey of Strength," which indeed strengthened old kinships but also created for us both new friends and a sisterhood that will be bonded for life. This retreat that Sandra brings to life invites and pampers cancer patients, some of whom she has never met before, most of whom spend the entire weekend at her home. She has fresh linens and flowers at bedside for all. She is fortunate that she has the room to accommodate us, as are we.
The event starts out on a Friday night with a girl movie. I, still recovering from a small surgery, wasn't quite ready for social activity. I did hear from everyone how fun it was to just kick back, relax and laugh, knowing that cancer was there but also very far away.
Saturday morning begins with breakfast and a morning walk on the beach (two blocks away). Each person etches a personal word of inspiration in the sand. This year, I arrived at Sandra's in time to watch a Zumba class being delivered with sexy Moroccan sarongs (too soon for me to participate). We keep the sarongs and I plan to use mine in the future (and not for Zumba class). Following the work out was a lite lunch prepared by "Chef Gregory" -- salad with jerk chicken and strawberries accompanied by pinot grigio and desert.
Throughout the day, Sandra, Hope and friends from past retreats filled our day with activities and gifts of pampering. At our disposal were a massage therapist and two reflexologists. Melissa (a former guest) did facials from morning until night. A radiation oncologist was brought in (on her own time) to talk and answer any questions we might have.
In the afternoon, an elegant dinner table for 18 was set by Sandra in her rearranged living room overlooking the intra-coastal. We guests were busy either receiving facials, taking naps or getting dressed as though we were going out for a night on the town.
Dinner was prepared by Dr. Seide (Hanscy) after he had spent the day working at the hospital. He and a friend (another physician) bought, prepared and served us along with Hope and her friends an arugula salad followed by a lobster and cabbage stew. After the stew, we had fresh grouper, filet mignon and couscous, again with either white or red wine ending with a meringue, fresh berries and whipped cream. Prior to eating, candles were lit and lined across the mantle as a blessing from Father John (their friend and priest) was given.
The next morning was a visit to church, if one so desired. There are no judgments made. After church was yoga by the pool alongside swaying palm trees again with a view of the river. Next came a beautiful brunch, a plateful of food that would take too much time to mention here. Let's just say it was for no one on a diet.
I'm not done. After brunch we made Christmas ornaments filled with encouraging words and received more gifts. Sandra's thoughtfulness continues. She and I had spoken earlier of my cancer recurrence preventing me from decorating this holiday season. She brought out a 4.3-foot lighted Christmas tree for me with ornaments so that I would have something.
Who does this? That was our mantra throughout the weekend. Yes, her family has too has been touched by cancer, but is this going too far?
Next year the Seides hope to increase the number of women who attend.
I suppose I wrote this so that others might somehow feel the healing impact this has had on me. Perhaps there are some of you who might take up this endeavor. I'm tired of hearing from others that those in medical industry don't care. I'm tired of hearing about doctors who make too much money and never give back. I'm tired of the cynicism.
Doctors do care! Their families care! Nurses care! The industry cares! I'm sorry for you if you don't have the ability to see it. I know they care because I have Hanscy, Sandra and Hope.
If you would like to help in participating or creating an event such as this, email me at LisaMasters@Build-A-Boob.com. I don't know if I can help, but an email can't possibly hurt.
For more information about Lisa Masters visit her at www.build-a-boob.com
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