Sanford Breast Cancer Retreat Helps Survivors Support Each Other
Survivors can share stories and hear from experts
MOORHEAD, Minn. — Sanford hosted a breast cancer retreat that brings survivors together.
One attendee, Sandra Dunn, is a two–time cancer survivor. Her advice is simple: stay positive.
When she was first diagnosed in 2008, she says she lived her life to the fullest.
“I danced a lot, I spent a lot of time with my family and friends. I was going to make that year not about cancer, not about surviving cancer, when I thought about 2008, it was going to be a great year,” she said. “The day before my hair fell out, I bought a car, because screw you, cancer.”
She’s come to the retreat almost every year, where survivors can share their stories and hear from experts.
“The energy here is so warm. It’s so embracing,” she said.
Something she tells the people she mentors is, “You’re breathing today, we’re alive today, and we’re going to be alive tomorrow, pretty good chance.”
An oncology psychologist says having a positive body image is important, especially in a society that emphasizes appearances.
“Women in our country and culture don’t have real positive body image to begin with, and then 75 percent of the people that go through breast cancer treatment struggle even more with body image,” Chery Hysjulien, an oncology psychologist at Roger Maris Cancer Center, said.
Doctors say having professionals and loved ones stand behind you is important.
“People think, ‘oh, the last treatment, everybody feels fine, you should feel back to normal,’ well that is not true when you’ve been through a traumatic experience, that lives with you forever,” Shelby Terstriep, an oncologist at Sanford, said.
For Dunn, it’s been 10 years since her first diagnosis.
“It’s now 2018, I’ve watched my children get married, I have grandchildren, and life is just wonderful,” she said.
This is the sixth year the retreat has been held. There are also events held in Bismarck and Sioux Falls.