OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) - Ten breast cancer survivors and their families traveled across the country to Oak Island for a week-long retreat hosted by Little Pink Houses of Hope.
“Little Pinks mission is to really just give these families a time to reconnect. After they’ve gone through so much with their cancer diagnosis, it’s not just the physical aspect but financial, spiritual, emotional. We really just want to give them a time to come and reconnect with their families and connect with the other families that are going through the same thing and just love on them for the week,” said Oak Island retreat director Elizabeth Gilley.
The ten breast cancer survivors, their caregivers, and their combined 18 children have spent the week on the beach and traveling throughout southeastern North Carolina for trips to the aquarium, Carolina Beach, and Fort Fisher.
The group spent Thursday morning kayaking together.
“There’s so much that goes on when you have a cancer diagnosis. There’s appointments, doctors meetings, family meetings, and to give them a week where they can come and just be, just be with their family and not have to plan anything, not to have to worry about anything financial. Just come and let us take care of them,” Gilley said.
Hurricane Florence forced organizers to cancel last year’s retreat, and they feared Dorian would do the same.
“We were really worried with Dorian that this one was going to get canceled too but thankfully that was not the case and we’ve had a great week,” Gilley said.
Allison Fisher is one of the breast cancer survivors on the Oak Island retreat. Last March, she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. She underwent chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
“This experience has been life-changing,” Fisher said. “The moment we walked in the door of the house that we’re staying in this week, you can’t wipe the smiles off our faces. We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness and love from the volunteers to the other families that we’ve met."
Before the retreat, Fisher said she had only met one other woman with the same type of breast cancer.
"There’s so many women here that have had that and to be able to connect with them and talk about their experiences and where they’re at with their treatments, I’ve learned about some new medications that I didn’t even know about and to give encouragement too, that it’s scary to think if it could come back or not but seeing other people that are dealing with it every day, they’re moms, they get their kids out the door just like I do. That connection, I think, we’ll have lifelong,” Fisher said.
The retreat allows kids and caregivers to connect with their peers who have gone through the same experiences, while also giving individual families time to reconnect.
“We are enjoying time together as a family that last year kind of got taken away from us with the cancer. Now just being able to be on the beach with them, do activities with them, and see them happy that’s just what any mom wants for her family,” Fisher said.