Archive for camps & retreats

Camps for Kids & Families Touched by Cancer


Attending one of the many camps created specifically for anyone touched by cancer can be a wonderful way to connect with others who share similar experiences.  While some camps are just for children (or young adults) who have been diagnosed with cancer or have survived a diagnosis of cancer; others are for their siblings; and still others are designed for the entire family to attend.  There are even camps for children who have lost a parent or sibling to cancer.  Creating new friendships, sharing adventures, mastering new skills or simply taking a break from cancer are a few of many benefits these camps can offer.

To find a camp that fits your specific needs, check out these incredible resources that list many different cancer camps.  Most camps have oncology doctors and nurses on staff to  provide medical care to campers when necessary.  Additionally, many of these camps are offered FREE of charge to participants.

Ped-Onc Resource Center which lists camps by state coupled with a short description of each camp.

Cancer.Net also provides a listing of different camp and retreat options for kids and families touched by cancer.

Allen’s Guide offers a listing a camps that specialize in oncology.

Also talk to your oncology nurse or social worker.  They may be able to suggest additional camps and/or retreats that may be beneficial for you.

If you’ve been to a camp that you loved, please comment below.  Knowledge is power… let’s share the power...

FREE Running Program for Cancer Survivors in MD, DC, VA

Andy & Alan 2004 Bay Bridge 10K

Andy & Alan @ Rockville Rotary Twilighter 8K Runfest 1992


Pictured above is Alan (on the right) with his childhood friend Andy.  Since this picture was taken, Andy has run 27 marathons, completed 5 triathlons and has become a certified running coach.  Despite all these accomplishments, Andy always made time to go for a run or walk with Alan, even after he was diagnosed with cancer.


Andy is now volunteering as a running coach for The Ulman Cancer Fund’s CANCER to 5K Training Program-a FREE 12-week training program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to training for and completing a 5K road race.  Amazing, right?!

ABOUT The CANCER to 5K Training Program:

Research has now shown that exercise is especially important for cancer survivors both in and out of active treatment.  Regular exercise not only improves mood, boosts self-confidence and reduces fatigue, but there is loads of evidence suggesting that higher levels of physical activity can help keep the cancer from recurring.

The Cancer to 5K Training Program is a progressive run/walk program designed to get cancer survivors to the 5K finish line happy, healthy and injury-free.  

*  Who can join?  Young adult cancer survivors (ages 15-40) living in Maryland, DC or Northern Virginia.  Survivors who have completed treatment and survivors who are currently undergoing treatment can participate.

*  This program is limited to 10 participants per 12-week session.  Personalized training plans are created by experienced running coaches.  This is a FREE program with no fundraising commitments.

*  BEFORE starting the program, a Medical Waiver must be signed by the participant’s current primary care physician to ensure that training for a 5K won’t negatively impact  treatment or recovery.

*  Next training sessions begins on March 23, 2013.  Click on the links below for a team near you:  

Montgomery County Maryland team 

Northern VA/ Washington DC team 

Howard County team 

* If you live outside the current training areas (Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Montgomery County, MD and Howard County, MD), you can still participate with The CANCER to 5K “At Home” Training Program via email and phone.


To learn more or sign up for a team, visit  And if you run into Andy at the trainings (no pun intended ;-) ), please give him a big hug from ME.

Stowe Weekend of Hope Cancer Retreat

Cancer survivors & their families are invited to the 12th Annual Stowe Weekend of Hope from May 3-May 5, 2013.


The Stowe Weekend of Hope offers a healthy, inspirational retreat weekend for cancer survivors (of any type of cancer) & their families.  Free services include: lodging for 1st time attendees (discounted lodging for returning participants); educational workshops; wellness & creativity sessions; intensive workshops by cancer type; and lots more… plus the beautiful & scenic Vermont mountains.  A detailed schedule of events, activities and sessions will be available soon on their website.


If you’ve been to a Stowe Weekend of Hope in the past, we’d love to hear about your trip…  Knowledge is power… please share the power! xo

FREE Beach Retreats for Breast Cancer Survivors & Their Families


Little Pink Houses of Hope provides FREE week long retreats for breast cancer survivors and their families in various beach locations around the country.  At these beach retreats, patients and their families are given time to relax, recover and reconnect with one another as well as meet and bond with other families touched by breast cancer.  Sounds A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  


Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…

Approximately 7-10 families touched by breast cancer attend each retreat.  Each family is given their own private beach house FREE of charge for one whole week.  All meals & all activities are also provided free of charge.  The family only pays for their travel expenses related to getting to & from the retreat.


Little Pink Houses of Hope takes care of every single detail so you don’t have to.  Each house is stocked with breakfast food and drinks.  Lunches and dinners are prepared by Little Pink Houses of Hope volunteers and are served in a common dining area with the other families on the retreat.  Local merchants donate various services and activities like fishing expeditions, parasailing, yoga, arts & crafts, etc.  FREE babysitting is also included so parents can have a date night if they choose.  Families can spend time as much relaxing together as they want; they also can spend time with other families who are battling or have battled breast cancer.  Participation in any planned activity is optional.


Applications for the 2013 season will open on January 1st.  This year, beach retreats will be held in Carolina Beach, NC; Bethany Beach, DE; Key West, FL; and Galveston, TX to name just a few.  For a complete list of retreat locations, visit  More locations are being added for the 2013 season so check back regularly.


To apply, patients must submit an application form online, have medical clearance from their oncology health care team and meet the following conditions:

  • be ambulatory;
  • be at least 18 years of age;
  • and currently be a patient of a licensed physician who has undergone treatment for breast cancer within the past 12 months.

Applicants who are currently undergoing treatment are given top priority.  For more information, visit or call (336) 213-4733.

Creating Everlasting Memories for Kids Who Will Lose a Parent to Cancer

Image credit: 123RF Stock Pho


Sadly & horribly (understatements of the century), there are times when the chemo doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do or when a cancer is found too late and there is little hope of a cure.  In such instances, the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation helps send families on dream vacations to help take their minds off their troubles and create lasting family memories.  Vacations can include many things such as walking down the Red Carpet at the Emmys to meet & greet with celebrities; going to Disney World, Six Flags, Sea World or on a cruise; meeting a favorite football team; etc.


With that said, Jack & Jill focuses on children who have a parent dying of cancer.  Families in need must be referred to the Foundation by their treating oncologist as well as:

  • Have late stage limited life expectancy cancer;
  • Have at least one (1) child age between the ages of three (3) and eighteen (18) – Only one child must meet the minimum age requirement;
  • Have a life expectancy more than two (2) months
  • Have not participated in an any adult dream, wish or any other similar program

For more information on these programs, click HERE or contact Heidi Cohen at 678-523-1001.  What an incredible program the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is has created for families.  Cancer can rob you of your loved one, but it can not steal your memories of them.



What Does Swimming with Sharks & Cancer Have in Common?

Image credit: ayerst / 123RF Stock Photo Lemon Shark in Bahamas

One of Alan’s very favorite things to do was to scuba dive.  He loved marine life.  In Tahiti, he swam next to with an 11 foot lemon shark and LOVED it.  So needless to say when I heard about Fin Forward, I got pretty excited.

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)… Fin Forward specializes in shark dives and marine encounters for cancer survivors.  I call this “Adventure Therapy’.  Fin Forward partners with local dive groups to give cancer survivors a therapeutic adventure- although shark dives are their primary focus, they will also arrange dives with whales, dolphins, sting rays & other marine life.  S.C.U.B.A. certification is not required for most trips, and Fin Forward can accommodate most levels of physical fitness, aquatic experience and comfort with sharks.


In addition to being one of the most common “bucket list” items, the folks from Fin Forward believe that shark diving can have therapeutic benefits and act as a catalyst for change.  They hope these dives will create milestone moments that fundamentally change individuals and illustrate the powers of personal perseverance and the human spirit.


BTW, I was just watching The Big C, one of my very favorite shows, and in this episode, Cathy, a stage 4 melanoma survivor, went scuba diving.  Is that a coincidence or kismet????

Kick Cancer Overboard…


Imagine this…  A cruise ship filled with cancer fighters and survivors, their friends, family and supporters – all together celebrating life in a place where those touched by cancer can take a break for a few days… where the most important question is not how to pay for the next medical bill, but whether to play bingo, get a massage or sing karaoke.  Sounds nice, right?  

Check out Kick Cancer Overboard….

Founder & travel agency owner Ted Friedli was frustrated (understatement of the century) as he watched otherwise healthy friends & family succumb to cancer.  As a way to  bring a little happiness & sunshine in people’s lives, he created “Kick Cancer Overboard“.  Their mission is to provide FREE cruises to people that been touched by cancer.


Kick Cancer Overboard‘s next cruise sets sail on May 19, 2012 to Bermuda.  Space is limited.  Contact Kick Cancer Overboard for more information on how to apply for financial assistance.

Take Me Away…. Check out Cancer Retreats

"Calgone... Take Me Away...."


“Calgone, take me away!”  Remember those “old” Calgone bubble bath commercials where taking a Calgone bubble bath could whisk you away from all your problems….  aahhh…. if only life were that simple.


Back to reality….  although taking a bubble bath can help relax your mind & body (especially if you add epsom salts or Dead Sea salts), there are many amazing organizations offering FREE or low-cost retreats for anyone touched by cancer that can help too.  At these retreats, you can relax, meet other cancer patients & survivors & learn more about healthy lifestyles.


Check out this list of FREE or low-cost retreats from The Gathering Place, an amazing organization that provides many FREE programs & support to individuals and families touched by cancer.  Retreats range from a weekend away to one week or longer and are located throughout the country.  Some are cancer-type specific like Casting for Recovery - a free weekend retreat for women with breast cancer where learning coping skills & making new friends while learning how to fly fish is the focus.  Others like Stowe Weekend of Hope (12th annual retreat is set for May 4-6, 2011) in Stowe, VT offers a healthy, inspirational weekend retreat for cancer survivors AND their families.  For more information on these retreats, as well as many others, visit The Gathering Place’s website.


p.s.  The Gathering Place has loads of helpful information on their website for anyone navigating a cancer journey.  Check them out.  I wish I had known about this resource while we were battling Alan’s cancer.

Top 10 Reasons Why I LOVE First Descents Camp


My cousin @ First Descents


First Descents (FD) is an amazing outdoor adventure camp for young adults (ages 15-40) with cancer plus a whole lot more… so without further ado, here is The Top 10 Reasons Why I LOVEFirst Descents (FD):

10.  Over the past several years, our good friend Brent does an insane bike race called the Leadville 100 to help raise $$$ for First Descents. (And just to let you know, Brent and his wife (aka Stepmom) first got involved with FD because their best friend, Allan Goldberg, was a cancer survivor and became Executive Director of FD.  Allan passed away 2 years ago after being cancer-free for 25 years… and guess what kind of cancer Allan had…. yep, the same rhabdomyosarcoma as my Alan… weird right? Not even 6 degrees of separation.)


9.  Speaking of 6 degrees of separation, my cousin had leukemia when he was 16 and after he recovered, he went to First Descents Camp for two summers and LOVED it.  (My cousin now is 23 years old, getting ready to graduate college & begin a PhD program in the fall.  He is an amazing and inspiring survivor and I adore him.) 


8.  No one calls you by your first name there… instead, they give you a really cool nickname like Stepmom, Truffles, Stiletto, Masturbator, Shipwreck, Dr. P & Giggles.  (BTW, these are real nicknames of real campers.)  

7.  FD is all about the ADVENTURE not the cancer…  Of course you get to meet other people who can easily relate to what you’ve gone through (or are going through) but really, FD programs are all about having fun, getting outside & pushing your limits through kayaking, rock climbing & other cool outdoor activities. What a novel approach to traditional therapy!  


6.  No kayaking, river or rock climbing experience necessary.  In fact, most campers have NEVER done anything like this before.  Some don’t even know how to swim. FD will teach you everything you need to know.


5.  They offer one week camps from April – September throughout the country in beautiful places like Moab, UT; Mount Hood, OR; Salmon River, ID; Vail, CO; Estes Park, CO; Bryson City, NC.


4.   You never outgrow FD… after your 1st amazing experience, you can continue with other First Descenter’s through their new FDX Program.  FDX is for past campers who have “outgrown” their regular programs & want to “challenge” themselves on more difficult rapids & harder climbs, all with their FD family by their side.    


3.  It’s FREE!!!!  Yes, that’s right… it’s 100% free. 

2.  My Alan would have LOVED to have gone to a FD camp… in fact, we joked with Brent & Lisa about sneaking Alan in even though he was over-age.  


#1.  Their philosophy ROCKS…. “Cancer, no matter how aggressive, dormant, advanced or invasive it is, will never be stronger that you are.”  


For more information on this amazing, free, outdoor adventure, please visit their website at  If you are a First Descenter, please let us know from your perspective how it was… Knowledge is power. Share the power please!




FREE Retreat for Cancer Survivors


Cancer survivors & their families are invited to the 11th Annual Stowe Weekend of Hope from April 29 – May 1, 2011.


The Stowe Weekend of Hope offers a healthy, inspirational retreat weekend for cancer survivors & their families.  Free services include: lodging for 1st time attendees (discounted lodging for returning participants); educational workshops; wellness & creativity sessions;  intensive workshops by cancer type; and lots more… plus the beautiful & scenic Vermont mountains. The thought of traveling away for the weekend with family to a survivors retreat sounds pretty amazing.  Alan would have loved to do this.
If you’ve been to a Stowe Weekend of Hope in the past, please let us know. We’d love to hear about your trip…

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