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!
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.