Support, connect, and help lighten hearts—these are the simple goals of Camp Lightheart, an overnight children’s camp for those who have a mom with breast cancer or who have lost their mothers to breast cancer.
Camp Lightheart was launched in 2007 on Omega’s Rhinebeck campus and has returned each year since. This August, 18 children participated in the camp and more than 150 children have attended over the past 10 years.
The camp was created by Breast Cancer Options, the largest community-based organization providing free breast cancer services in the Hudson Valley area and one of the few organizations giving direct support to children of women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Offered free to participants, the camp is an opportunity for children to meet others going through similar experiences.
"Words cannot express how grateful all of us at Breast Cancer Options are for your support," said Hope Nemiroff, executive director of Breast Cancer Options. "The campers love Omega and feel accepted and safe which is important for children in their situations. One camper had begun sleeping on the floor next to her mom’s bed to keep an eye on her. Camp really helped her to deal with her fears and be able to talk about them."
Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat
Some of the children have moms who attend the Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat also held at Omega. This year, 25 women attended the retreat and since 2011, more than 115 women have participated.
The retreat includes special programs to help attendees deal with an advanced cancer diagnosis, how to manage stress, and how to deal with treatment side effects. Healers donate their services.
"The women in the retreat feel as though they have found a second home and love the camaraderie and support they are surrounded by," Nemiroff said.
During the retreat, women share stories and learn from other women like themselves, as well as special speakers, physicians, and others.
"The retreat left me changed," one participant said. "I went in not sleeping, feeling tired, isolated, and depressed, and left lighter. It's hard to explain but being around these women, in a tranquil setting, sharing our condition but laughing and talking like 'normal people' made me feel human again."
Another participant was grateful that the program was offered at no cost. She said, "Treating this disease takes 40 percent of our monthly income. To know that Breast Cancer Options is there for free advice at any time and sponsors retreats like this is invaluable to me."
© 2016 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies