Q. I would love to go to a spa or retreat after my last treatment, but what I am finding is extremely expensive. After a loss of income for a year and medical expenses, there's not much left for anything. Is there a retreat or spa like this for cancer survivors? Maybe a place that insurance would help cover costs?
There is so much information available about retreats and spa-like getaways that include massage and yoga as part of their healing package. Searching for “retreat cancer patients” brought up numerous websites that have lists about retreats and weekend getaways all across the country. Many of them seemed free or offered at a greatly discounted rate. In a time when financial assistance is often few and far between, the “in-kind” assistance seems to be available and donated in abundance.
Here are resources for finding retreats for cancer survivors:
- The Gathering Place’s Cancer Retreats
- Foundation for Women’s Cancer’s Retreats for Women with Cancer and Their Families
- Cancer.Net’s Camps and Retreats for Families and Children Affected by Cancer
Here are a few examples of possible retreats:
- Casting for Recovery offers free fly-fishing weekends in 33 states for female breast cancer survivors. Founded on the principles that the natural world is a healing force, you don’t have to know how – or even like – to fly fish; the main goal is bonding. The retreats are held from April to November and also incorporate counseling and educational services.
- Mary’s Place by the Sea is a quiet place of retreat and healing in Ocean Grove, NJ with massage, reiki, guided meditation, nutritional counseling, cooking classes, counseling and yoga.
- Stowe Weekend of Hope is a three-day gathering held each spring in the resort town of Stowe, VT, for both male and female cancer survivors and their families. Activities include educational sessions with top doctors presenting current medical research in all areas of cancer treatments, workshops by cancer type, movement and exercise classes, a three-mile run and more.
- Little Pink Houses provides free week-long beach retreats in private homes in North and South Carolina for breast cancer patients and their immediate families.
In terms of insurance covering spa or wellness treatments, rehabilitation and medical massage clinics will sometimes accept various types of insurance for medically necessary massage and physical therapy. Spa and massage treatments can offer a host of physical and mental benefits which are continuously being researched, and medical professionals are viewing them more and more as a way of supporting the whole patient. These types of treatments can improve the outlook people have about their treatments, enhance body awareness, reduce pain and swelling, improve lymph node drainage and minimize the effects of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Many spas have specialized oncology massage therapists who have experience working with cancer patients and know how to tailor treatments. As you’re researching spas, keep in mind the products they use and the level of hygiene the spa offers. As some products can irritate your skin and you may be more susceptible to infections, it’s important to only visit spas and retreats that practice proper cleaning and disinfection schedules.