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Camp Bluebird was Amazing!

Rocquie's picture
Rocquie
Posts: 839
Joined: Mar 2013

I returned yesterday afternoon from Camp Bluebird, a 3-day retreat for adult cancer survivors. Camp Bluebird is co-sponsored by the American Cancer Society and is held in many locations throughout the country. The camp I attended was held at a beautiful conference center nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. We stayed in a comfortable lodge and the setting was peaceful and so very beautiful. The weather was perfect. The food was wonderful. 

I shared a room with a woman about my age who is a breast cancer survivor. We had so much, other than cancer, in common and really hit it off. We sat up late both nights, talking, laughing, and crying. She lives very close to me and I really feel that I have a new friend, a bonus I did not expect. 

I must admit that I felt overwhelmed at first. I am an introverted person and I walked into a scene which was "wide-open". There were about 50 campers, about half of whom, like me, were first time campers. There was a whirlwind of activities and my head was swimming. I had been assigned my own counselor and she took me under her wing right away and helped me settle in. 

I did some whittling and no one could have been more surprised to learn I was quite good at it than I was. My husband was very impressed with my little project I came home with and I am very proud of it. I also made a beautiful bracelet. Other things to do included fishing, building a birdhouse, quilting, and many, many other craft projects. There was a food demonstration, a forum with an oncologist, a costume party, bingo, a band with dancing, a bonfire by the lake at night, massage, healing touch, small group discussions. There was a Chaplain and I went to Devotional each morning before breakfast. 

I knew I was emotionally damaged from my Lymphoma treatment. Maybe even PTSD. My experiences with other people who know exactly how I feel was amazingly healing and cathartic. I have spent so much time alone and isolated. People, including family, see me and think it is all over when I knew it was not, but couldn't seem to find a way to mend myself. 

I have spent my entire life "doing" for others. It was extremely difficult for me to let go and let others do for me. Each time I spoke, I found I couldn't control the tears. They kept pouring and embarrassing me and choking me. But these people embraced me and understood and provided safety and I really had no choice but to let them flow. And as my tears flowed, I began to feel true healing for the first time. 

I highly, highly recommend Camp Bluebird. I would also be negligent if I failed to mention that there is a nominal fee for this and you don't even have to pay that if you can't afford it. 

Love and healing. . .

Rocquie

 

 

 

 

anliperez915's picture
anliperez915
Posts: 772
Joined: Sep 2011

Hi Rocquie,

It sounds amazing, I wish I could do something like that ")

I will look into my area ACS to see if they have anything similar. I'm glad that you were able to let everything out, sometimes we just need to clean our souls. I always tell people (if you feel like crying then go ahead and do it) why do we always feel the need to look strong and hold everything inside! just wanted to say that I'm happy for you! Take care and sending you a HUGE HUG

Sincerely,

Liz

Rocquie's picture
Rocquie
Posts: 839
Joined: Mar 2013

I hope you can find a Camp Bluebird or similar retreat in your area. And yes, that is just what I feel like--that my soul has been cleansed. Thank you for the good wishes and I return hugs back to you.

Love,

Rocquie

 

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2111
Joined: Aug 2011

I'm so glad you had an amazing time and made a new friend to boot!  Your description has made me tear up too and I don't do that easily these days.  Maybe I can make it in October.  I'm so happy this is helping you to heal.  I'm in Virginia this weekend (niece's daughter's high school graduation).  Believe it or not the new dog did pretty well on the trip.  She did try to crawl in my lap once but I told her she was too young to drive ;).  

Big hugs,

Jim

Rocquie's picture
Rocquie
Posts: 839
Joined: Mar 2013

I wish I could go again in October but I found out I can't go back until next year. They have to save space for new campers, so return campers can only attend once a year. 

The camp is held in Flat Rock which will be incredibly gorgeous in October with all the fall colors. The weather was perfect this week but my car was wearing a yellow fur coat (pollen) after being parked there for 3 days. 

I'm glad you reminded your puppy she was not yet old enough to drive.

Hugs,

Rocquie

 

girliefighter's picture
girliefighter
Posts: 232
Joined: Mar 2013

Rocquie,

So glad you had an amazing retreat. I knew it was going to be therapeutic for you, I know those lonely pent up feelings all too well. I can safely say I feel free and safe around other cancer patients/survivors nobody knows how we feel until they have been through the journey themselves. It is tough to do for others and always be the tough one, even when you should be able to let go you can't really ever allow yourself you much needed moments of weakness. I read today that loneliness can never be filled by another person and never should be expected to be fulfilled by the physical prescence of another, however the words/thoughts and sharing them will allow someone to not feel so alone even though we feel guilty about sharing too much or being a burden to others. I truly believe that while cancer or treatment can ravish a person's physical being the emotional part is much more traumatic. Souls get broken and lonely and I am so glad that you were able to have this experience and bond with others that feel the same way. Hopefully we will all have our "camp bluebird".

XXXOOO

Carie

Rocquie's picture
Rocquie
Posts: 839
Joined: Mar 2013

Yes, those lonely pent up feelings. You say it well. This retreat really did help to heal my soul. Thank you for caring.

Hugs and much love,

Rocquie

 

allmost60's picture
allmost60
Posts: 3184
Joined: Jul 2010

Hi Rocquie,

  I'm happy this trip worked for you on so many levels. Finding a new friend that also lives close to you is just great. I hope you will reach out to her and build on the new found friendship. Hope you have a good Memorial weekend. Love...Sue

Rocquie's picture
Rocquie
Posts: 839
Joined: Mar 2013

Yes, the camp was wonderful for me on many levels. I have already called my new friend and invited her to join us for a Memorial Day backyard BBQ. I hope you also have a great weekend (with some worries off you). 

Hugs,

Rocquie

 

Anonymous user (not verified)

Rocquie I am so glad you had such a good time at the camp. We all respond differently to this disease. For what it may be worth, my advice is focus on life, not on cancer. You are in remission! Look at it as a second chance to do the things you always wished you had done But never got around to! Or not, just stay home and relax if that sounds better! You are in charge. Cancer is not the boss! Deal with other issues when they happen. I know we are very different and each of us probably can't understand how the other feels. I do however sincerely wish you well. Enjoy life! Me? I am going to Vegas. Too old for Disneyland! And because of this disease there are no limits. I will have as many martinis as I want and eat whatever I see that I think I might like. thats my approach.

Rocquie's picture
Rocquie
Posts: 839
Joined: Mar 2013

You are right. I should rejoice that I am in remission and I do. And yes, I should focus on living my life and stop giving my lymphoma so much of my energy. I know that; but I can't always control that mind of mine. One trick I use, when my brain wants to be so busy thinking is to give it a job. I also learned some other strategies at camp. 

I was extremely sick with my lymphoma and treatment. I was hospitalized several times--once in critical condition. I lost not only my previously excellent health, I lost my mobility and independence, and my job. All of that was very traumatizing and I guess I have not been strong enough to just brush myself off and move forward without any scars. 

I suppose Camp Bluebird was my Disneyland without the martinis. 

I do enjoy food! When I was sick, I lost 40 pounds. Since I got my appetite back, I have been ravenous! Food has never looked so good, smelled so good, and taste seems 100 times better. 

Enjoy!

And in joy,

Rocquie

 

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3517
Joined: May 2012

GKH,

A stellar set of thoughts ! Your insights here are profoundly wholesome and life-affirming.

I am "off the radar" with my work until Tuesday, or there about.  A blessed Memorial Day weekend to all.

max

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