Tish and I had intended to go together to a Living Well course at the Penny Brohn Centre in Bristol. However after much discussion and before booking we decided that we should in fact go separately to get the most from the retreat. Tish chose to take a wonderful friend of hers, Marie, as her companion and went to an earlier retreat. Thank heavens as she truly felt it made a huge difference to her final months.
Tish urged me to book myself onto the Living Well course and suggested the course starting today. I can’t help but know she knew that the timing was important. All day at her funeral I think knowing that I was going to be attending the course in a few hours got me through. I knew they’d understand. However I think I cried the entire length of the M4 and only managed to stop crying when I hit the outskirts of Bristol.
As soon as I walked into the Centre, I ran into Michael Connors, Director of Services. I’ve met Michael a number of times before when I’ve been doing things with Living Beyond Diagnosis. It was at least a minute after he asked me how I was, that I shed a tear again. Michael was fabulous and reminded me that I was on the Living Well retreat for ME not as an advocate or on behalf of Living Beyond Diagnosis. I needed to hear that at that point too. Thank you Michael.
The Living Well course is an introductory course which aims to provide a tool kit of tried and tested techniques that can help you support your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
The Living Well course encourages you to explore the meaning of cancer in your life with people who understand the impact of the journey. Share your experience with others in similar situations, and think about what steps you could take now to help you live well. During the residential course there is a wonderfully designed programme with group sessions including information, healthy eating, exercise, understanding the impact of cancer on emotions and relationships and sharing practical tips.
The facilitators use different methods of relaxation, meditation, mindfulness and imagery during the stay and also explain more about the science and research behind the approach.
The Centre is incredibly comfortable with rooms equivalent to any great hotel. The days are emotional and challenging so despite our early bedtimes, we slept extraordinarily well.
I shared the experience with 10 others. Both men and women. Some with partners and others with friends as companions. There is also good representation of age and different cancer types and stages of diagnosis.
I came away with a mind full of plans for a future as well as a restocking of my ‘toolbelt for life’ with new and resharpened tools. I felt lighter than I have for quite some time. More positive. Perhaps able to work through some anxieties and concerns. In addition to this, I was also delighted to have made some wonderful new friends and to have received and given such heartfelt farewell hugs.