Angel Foundation Winter Retreat

February 16, 2019

Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has Breast Cancer by Davies and Nobens took me today to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul to attend the winter retreat of the Angel Foundation.  Angel Foundation is a Twin Cities-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to provide support to local adults with cancer and their families. For more than fifteen years, their programs have helped families facing cancer find more everyday moments of joy.

The JOY was evident today in the faces of the families attending as well as the organizers and volunteers.  What an awesome way to spend a Saturday morning and part of the afternoon on a cold winter day in February! 

The Winter Retreat is part of the Facing Cancer Together program which gives parents and caregivers the tools they need to parent through cancer. Kid-friendly activities provide education, emotional support and social experiences for the entire family.

My part today was to share Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has Breast Cancer with the young children, preteens and teens.  Kids at whatever age are a resilient group able to grow, adjust, and deal with the stuff life throws at them.   Today’s group of twenty some kids all shared the defining attribute that a loved one in their life was facing cancer.  The love, understanding, respect and strength that I experienced within this group was truly inspiring to me.  The lessons that I learned today were many;

  • As I began reading Jeannie Ann’s story, a young boy about 6 raised his hand.  He wanted me to know that his mother had breast cancer like in the story. He started out by saying, “My Mom has . . . “.  His head went down to the table and his older sister finished the sentence for him.  The youngest participant was the first to respond leading the way for his cohorts.  I was thrilled.
  • After completing the story, I asked the students to interact by drawing, writing, pantomime, comparing Jeannie Ann’s story to their own story.  A 6th grade young man picked up a pencil and wrote totally undisturbed by anything happening around him.  He later shared his Mom’s tribute.  (I only share a portion.) “My Mom and I joked and called it her baseball baby and we laughed hard but in a week it wasn’t funny anymore.”
  • “Hey wait, I didn’t get to share mine yet!”  “I want to share mine too.”  Two members of the group were finishing up when time ran out.  The group just automatically stopped moving and respectfully listened to the last two share their responses.  I was amazed!
  • I’d ask a question of the older group expecting to hear who in their family was dealing with cancer.  The first young man told us his mother had breast cancer and continued on to tell us about how he had to learn to be more patient with her angry outbursts.  Following suite, one of the girls added that she began to appreciate the little things that bring joy and happiness. 
  •  A lovely young gal choose to sit with her back to me as I read the story.  She didn’t want to share when the opportunity to do so came up.  Yet she was the first to step up to have me sign her copy of Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has Breast Cancer.

All of this and more in two back to back half hour sessions.  It truly was an amazing opportunity that I was honored to have come my way.  Thank you Angel Foundation.  I’m a fan of what you are doing for cancer patients and their families.

What a Blessing to live in the Neck!
A Huge Hug

2 Comments on “Angel Foundation Winter Retreat

  1. Thank you, Diane, for sharing your intimate reflection of your day at our Angel Foundation Retreat. Through the reading of your book, you obviously opened the door for these children and teens to share their thoughts and feelings with their peers. You have given them a moment of relief and understanding that they are not alone in their experience. You were a delight to meet and we all look forward to seeing you again soon!

    Margie Sborov

  2. It truly was my pleasure Margie. As always I’m the one to learn the most from the opportunity. Thanks again Angel Foundation for the invitation to be of help to others on their cancer journey.

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