“Cancer is a harsh reality at any age, but for young adults, it can be an especially challenging, isolating experience,” says François Sauro, the dynamic chair of the committee behind A Step for Life. This exhilarating dance show, which burst through the scene for the first time in June 2015, raises funds for CancerFightClub, Hope & Cope’s innovative young adult programming.
Specifically, with proceeds of the 2015 show, Hope & Cope organized and hosted a three-day young adult retreat, entirely in French, in early April 2016 at Spa Jouvence in the Eastern Townships. Thirty-one participants, including 15 newly diagnosed young adults and 11 of their supporters, came together for a weekend of conversation, camaraderie and connection. A variety of workshops focused on strategies for living well with cancer were held, and participants enjoyed lots of free time as well as scheduled indoor and outdoor activities in beautiful surroundings. According to volunteer organizers Deborah Bridgman and Julie Szasz, participants, who came from all over Quebec, were profoundly grateful for the opportunity to find the support they need.
Says Debbie, “We succeeded in building a strong community within the young adult cancer world and we integrated many newly diagnosed young adults who will continue to be involved in future events at Hope & Cope.” Adds Julie, “The high attendance at our programs following the retreat is a direct result of the power of community, and especially, the power of Hope & Cope’s CancerFightClub.”
Retreat participant, Julie Loiselle, has nothing but praise for the experience, which vastly exceeded her expectations. “I was very isolated during my treatments. This retreat was extremely helpful, comforting and relaxing. The workshops with doctors and other health professionals allowed us time to ask questions in a safe environment and it was very enlightening to hear their perspective. I made new friends and really enjoyed the chance to be in a stress-free, beautiful setting away from the city.”
Thanks to the ongoing support of the Antony Proteau Fund, CancerFightClub offers other retreats and workshops throughout the year, including Canada’s first-ever retreat for young adults with metastatic cancer. For five years in a row, Antony’s friends have organized a highly successful annual ball hockey tournament as well as other fundraisers in support of Hope & Cope young adult programming. [Photos to come in the next issue of this newsletter.]