To Whom It May Concern,
Three years ago, a friend dragged me to my first winter retreat with Beit Natan. I was amazed and impressed with the program and the participants. I left the retreat feeling supported and encouraged.
The next year, I persuaded other cancer patients to attend. "You will be glad you went," I assured them, confidently.
This year, Beit Natan's winter retreat was fantastic.
The content was relevant and interesting. The lecturers and discussion facilitators were professional and inspiring. And the participants were warm and accepting.
The atmosphere created at this retreat is exceptionally powerful.
The dynamic between the staff, the vatikim (return participants), and the first-timers was harmonious and empowering. Over the course of three days, relationships were built and solidified. Women who arrived, feeling confused and isolated, left feeling connected and informed.
For the past five months, since I learned that my metastasis spread to my brain, I have been struggling to maintain my positive outlook. I came home from this retreat feeling strong and invigorated.
I connected with several other women who, like me, are living with cancer, and will be, for the rest of our lives. What a special gift, to be able to provide and receive support, at the same time.
What is most striking about this amazing gathering of cancer patients and survivors is the incredible happiness that is exuded by so many of the participants, including those struggling with cancer on a daily basis.
One would expect, rightly, that we would cry together. We do.
But we also laugh together. We laugh about the silly advice that well-meaning friends (and strangers) offer, we laugh about all the ironies that life has shown us, and we laugh about nothing at all. We laugh, and laugh, and laugh. And we feel good.
Not only does the laughter strengthen our immune system, it strengthens our faith, and it strengthens our spirit.
I am grateful to Beit Natan for all the wonderful work they do during the year, and especially for the winter retreat, which is an incredible gift to me, and all the other wonderful women who attend.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,