Tuesday, January 31, 2012

HOPE is alive and well in a town called Stowe!

It doesn't matter where you live.  It doesn't matter what kind of cancer you have.  This tip is for every cancer survivor who can get themselves to Stowe, VT.  My #1 favorite tip for cancer survivors and their loved ones is:  The Stowe Weekend of Hope (SWOH).

Once a year, on the first weekend in May, the residents of Stowe VT open their arms (and hearts!) to welcome cancer survivors and their families from around the country.  They offer healthy doses of  healing,  knowledge, inspiration, fun, peacefulness and acceptance.  They offer all of this in the beautiful mountain setting of Stowe (approximately 3 hours north of Boston). 

If you are a cancer survivor and a first time attendee, The SWOH will provide you with 2 nights FREE lodging at local hotels  (they do ask if you would like to donate your registration fee back to SWOH as that helps to keep the program going, but you don't have to if you really can't afford it).  

You can bring members of your family or friends.  These are the people who have helped you on your cancer journey, so they deserve to relax too.  If you are a returnee, the hotel rooms are significantly discounted.  There are some limited scholarships for those who cannot afford the room fees.

SWOH offers 3 days of workshops, classes and events aimed at providing information and coping strategies to those in attendance.  Many friendships have been formed here and survivors return year after year.  It's kind of like a big old summer camp for adults, only it's for adults with cancer.  Here, there is total acceptance.

In real life, you may feel self conscious about losing a breast, or having a long incision on your neck or because you are bald due to chemo.  Not here!!!  Everyone at SWOH knows how you feel.  For those who look totally healthy and recovered?  Nothing makes someone going through treatment feel more hopeful than to meet others who have "graduated" and finished treatment...and looking fabulous!!!  It is a beautiful thing to watch someone who is doing well give encouragement and advice to someone just starting out.  It is an incredible connection.

Some events are yearly staples:  the opening ceremonies, the chicken pie supper, the stunningly beautiful memorial service with luminaria, the saturday night dance party, the closing ceremonies.  We look forward to them all. 

Here's what I love the most:  if you don't have the energy to attend the workshops?  They don't care!  If  you just want to relax and sit by a hotel pool all weekend, they are fine with that!! Want to go hiking all day instead?  Enjoy!! Their whole philosophy is to honor you as a cancer survivor.  They recognize that your road has been rough.  They want you to relax, enjoy your weekend and feel special.

The townspeople are so welcoming and friendly.  The businesses that display the big green ribbon out front either donate funds to help sponsor the SWOH or they offer discounts to cancer survivors attending.

Can't get there?  How about this?  My hospital's  "Cancer Cares Through the Arts" Support Group, consists of cancer survivors who make beautiful handcrafted items at their monthly meetings.  Twice a year they have a sale.  They raise enough money to rent a big bus that brings 50 cancer survivors from our medical center to Stowe.  

Our patients love every minute of their very special weekend.  In 2011, between the bus and those who drove, our hospital had approximately 80 cancer survivors in attendance.

I think that every hospital's cancer program should provide a bus for their cancer survivors to attend this awesome event.   I think it is really sad that some of our major cancer centers are not promoting this event to their survivors or helping to provide transportation to this incredible weekend.  Hey....hold a few bake sales people!! Get your cancer survivors to this great event!!! 

This year's SWOH weekend:  May 4-6, 2012.  It's always the first weekend in May.

REGISTRATION STARTS ON FEBRUARY 29, 2012.  As you can imagine, hotel rooms are limited.  Last year I think they provided 600 hotel rooms for survivors and their families.  SO...REGISTER EARLY!!  We start helping our patients register (a lot of them don't have computers) the minute we come into work on registration day.

Get more information here:   http://www.stowehope.org/

See you in Stowe!!!!

Below is The Stowe Weekend of Hope Video of the Fabulous Anne and Dick Tonachel.   Anne is an ovarian cancer survivor and is a much loved and valued member of our support group.  Dick is her wonderful husband, who was her true champion during treatment (and beyond!!).  They are both pretty spectacular people.  This video reflects what the true meaning of SWOH is.  What it means for the people it is intended to honor:  cancer survivors and their loved ones.

Our cancer center thank you to SWOH in 2010 Stowe Reporter

Some of the great people of Stowe who make this weekend a reality (below).   Thank you for your many kindnesses!!

The Fabulous Green Mountain Transit Agency Shuttle Folks, Thank You!!!!

SWOH President Susan Rousselle and the fabulous Anne Tonachel of our Ovarian Cancer Support Group

The kind staff of Commodores Inn

This is the woman who baked the AMAZING  BISCUIT you see below!!!! 
Thank you Lillian Ricketson!!!

Look at the size of this thing!!!  It was SO delicious!!

Chicken Pie Supper Central.....Thank you Andersons and Chefs Extraordinaire!!

The very fabulous Leslie Anderson!!

Qi Gong on the lawn at Trapp Family Lodge

Many thanks to the town of Stowe, VT for your amazing hospitality!!!!

Thank you to the Green Ribbon Businesses that sponsor the SWOH.  Thank you to the following Stowe businesses for your many kindnesses during our 6 years coming to Stowe Weekend of Hope:

Commodores Inn
Golden Eagle Resort
Trapp Family Lodge
Mountain Road Resort
Stoweflake Hotel
Pie in the Sky Pizza
Depot Street Malt Shop
The Bagel
Green Mountain Transit Agency

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