Monday, June 28, 2010


I drove 320 miles with a dear friend, and we talked and laughed the whole time.  Our destination was to a HOPE retreat for breast cancer survivors in Springfield, MO.


Having been to Springfield many times, imagine my surprise when we arrived at Elfindale Mansion, a place I did not know existed, and yet is was only several blocks from Bass Pro Shop – a place I have been many times. 

The Mansion has an interesting history.  You can read about it here.  It has traded hands from a private residence, to a Catholic order of nuns, to a Catholic Academy for girls, to a safe house for the Shah of Iran, to a Christian Church property and bed and breakfast. 

Gathered together were six breast cancer survivors and four facilitators.  We quickly adopted the credo, “what happens at the Mansion, stays at the Mansion”. 


Private rooms and baths for all in very large suites. 



My friend, Dorothy, is sassy and sweet.  I want to be like HER when I’m 80!

004The lookout tower was the perfect place to go for writing and reflecting.  The windows looked down on the lake below.

013   Our early morning strolls took us by this cottage that I would give my eye teeth to get my hands on.  Breathing new life into it would be such a joy.  Does Hansel and Gretel come to mind to you too?


We also strolled by this peaceful creek, as we talked and shared.


The retreat originated as a dream of a breast cancer survivor from Colorado.  She passed away shortly after hosting the first retreat in 2004.  Her family are continuing her legacy through Sisters HOPE.  It is a nonprofit organization that, after this wonderful experience, I intend to get involved with.  To read more about Sisters HOPE, click here.


This was the first time that I had shared my cancer story with other survivors.  It was amazing how much the same and yet how different our stories are.  We talked, laughed, and cried together.  We looked at where we were and where we are today – and how the experience of cancer has changed each and every one of us.  We mourned the losses and celebrated our successes.  We came together as strangers and left 3 1/2 days later as sisters.  Sisters with a plan for the future.


Osage Bluff Quilter said...

What a beautiful place you got to retreat to. I know you came away a whole new person. Blessiings to you and your survior friends.

AliceKay said...

What a wonderful post and what a beautiful old mansion. I'm glad you and your friend had a wonderful time together, sharing your stories with other breast cancer survivors, and enjoying the time to reflect. It sounds like you came away with much more than you expected. I was happy to hear that. *hugs*

Yes, Hansel and Gretel did come to mind when I saw the pic of the little cottage. :)

That corgi :) said...

what a beautiful place for such a retreat! I agree with you; that little cottage had me thinking of Hansel/Gretel. I'm glad you got a chance to go to the retreat, Deanna, and to share your story with other survivors. I think there is that common bond there with empathy over sympathy. They might not have had the same type of cancer you did or traveled the same road of treatment, but they shared the fact of cancer and could understand your feelings so much better than a person who hasn't had cancer. Glad to hear too that it is something you intend to get involved with further.


A. K. said...

So peaceful... I wont mind spending a night there.

Queenie Jeannie said...

Wow!! What a wonderful place!!!!! I love older houses like that. I'm so glad you were able to enjoy yourself and give/get that special support!


Intense Guy said...

A beautiful post - gave me goosebumps.

That bright blue shirt Dorothy was wearing ... is so vivid and seems like the perfect color for her.

I'm glad you got a time away to reflect and to ...well... grow is the only word I can think of - it seems you've had a spiritual moment and feel "renewed" with purpose.

*Hugs his favorite survivor tightly*

myjoyproject said...

Beautiful photos & an inspiring story, thanks for sharing :)

Rural Rambler said...

Beautiful post Deanna. "Came together as strangers and left as sisters. Sisters with a plan for the future." I am glad you got away for this retreat and that Buggy got you and your dear friend there without a hitch :) Also happy to hear that it was a positive experience with lots of laughter and support.

Vicki Lane said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience. And the little cottage is an absolute dream!

Toriz said...

I'm glad you got there and back safely, and that you were able to take the time to share your story with others.

YogaGal in the NW said...

Oh Deanna, that was such a meaningful post for me. I hope I can join you on one of these retreats some day.

Much love to you,


Flat Creek Farm said...

What a wonderful retreat.. and a beautiful, strong sisterhood. Thanks for sharing with us. Hugs to you and your survivor sisters! -Tammy

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful place and I am so happy that you get to share with others for what you went through, Im so glad you are a survivor, HUGS

jewelzmomof4 said...

Mom I am so glad you had such a wonderful time!! That place is so beautiful I love it and I would LOV that little cottage it is so cute!! I would like to say you are an inspriation to me and I am so PROUD of you!! You are such a wonderful Mom and the BEST Grandma a kid could ask for!! I love you

Annesphamily said...

I think this post was wonderful. I am so glad I stopped by. I came over from Intense Guy. I noticed you live in Missouri. You should come over and join me. You may join the postcard exchange too.
I am glad I stopped by. I was very impressed with your post. That mansion is incredibly beautiful and I want to be so sassy and sweet like your cute friend Dorothy! Have a terrific 4th! Anne

Rita said...

What a magical place and a refreshing, spiritual retreat! Thanks for sharing. It sounds beautiful--the place and the women!! :)