Weekend conference for New Brunswick cancer survivors in jeopardy after grant cut
For the last 20 years, a group of New Brunswick cancer survivors has congregated for a wellness support weekend at the Villa Madonna Retreat House in Rothesay, N.B., but that may soon change.
The New Brunswick Breast Cancer Network says its retreats have guest speakers, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Many of the attendees credit the events with changing their lives.
“We get a lot of information that we don’t get in our doctor’s offices or with our oncologists,” said Raelene Arsenault, a cancer survivor who is set to attend the conference in November.
The theme of this year’s event will be This Is Me, and attendees said the overarching objective was to create an atmosphere of acceptance.
But organizers say they lost 85 per cent of their funding when the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation merged with the Canadian Cancer Society.
Now, the hunt is on to find a sponsor to fund the weekend.
“I’m very determined that I’m going to find businesses here in Fredericton and large groups of people who would support us so we can keep this going,” said Cathy DeLong.
Delong has been free of breast cancer for 13 years and has been attending the survival support weekends for the past 10 years.
The weekend draws roughly 60 attendees and can cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
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But for women like Mary Jane Smith, another conference attendee, the support that comes along with the events are priceless.
She fondly recalls a woman she connected with who had breast cancer that had metastasized to the bones — the same type of cancer she has.
“She was a seven-year survivor so it really gave me a lot of hope that I wasn’t going to die right away,” Smith said.
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