The Commonweal Cancer Help Program (CCHP) is an intensive week-long residential retreat for people with cancer and their significant others. Our intention is to help you discover how to live as well as possible for as long as possible. If and when the time comes to die, we hope to help you face death as you would most wish to.
During the retreat, we explore the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions of living with cancer. We engage in discovery-learning because we believe you have within you what you need for your own deepest healing. We offer six retreats per year. Each is limited to eight participants because it is the ideal size for small-group learning.
We offer a balanced exploration of choices in healing, including choices in conventional therapies, integrative therapies, pain and suffering, and death and dying. The primary focus of the retreat is on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions of deep, intentional healing.
- Six group support sessions with a gifted psychotherapist
- Three-hour long massage sessions
- Daily yoga or qi gong, meditation, and deep relaxation
- Sandtray (an experience in symbolic learning)
- Healing arts, music, and poetry
- Exploration of the healing power of sacred space
- Gourmet, primarily vegetarian meals
Examples of evening sessions include:
- Monday: Why we are here
- Tuesday: Choices in healing, in conventional therapies, and in integrative therapies
- Wednesday: Choices in pain and suffering as well as in death and dying
- Thursday: Making music with a gifted musician
- Friday: The healing power of creating sacred space in your home
- Saturday: What we are taking home with us
Commonweal has hosted more than 200 Cancer Help Program retreats. Most participants report a deeply powerful experience, many calling it transformative. The retreat often has profound effects on anxiety, fear, loneliness, helplessness, anger, and other distressing emotions that may accompany cancer
The Cancer Help Program is a learning experience, not a medical treatment. We don’t recommend therapies. All participants must be under the care of a qualified physician or other health professional.
Widely considered the premier residential retreat of its kind in the United States, the CCHP draws participants from across the US, Canada, Europe, and around the world.
Commonweal has more than twenty programs in health and healing, education and the arts, and environment and justice. Four of these programs may be of special interest you:
- Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies is the premier source for information on integrative cancer therapies.
- Cancer-Fighting Kitchen is an online program that is the work of Rebecca Katz, a nationally known culinary educator.
- The New School has many cancer- and healing-related videos and podcasts.
- Healing Circles provide the deep health benefits of social support.
Commonweal was the site of a very deep spiritual awakening for me as a consequence of the love and healing I experienced. During one of the most traumatic times in my life, joy and gratitude flooded into my heart and soul for every moment that I had been able to spend with my beloved. It helped prepare me for his death and the grief that followed. For my beloved soulmate, it brought the joy and sparkle back into his eyes for a while. Those pictures of him are some of my greatest treasures. I also know the healing he experienced during the Cancer Help Program retreat helped him live a little longer.
The Cancer Help Program helped me begin to heal that enormous part of me that was humiliated, terrified, extremely angry, and untrusting of all since cancer had entered my body and my life. I began the long road of opening up my heart that had been so incredibly closed.
At Commonweal, not only are we allowed to take in wisdom from the very finest minds and spirits, but we are allowed and encouraged to dwell in the spaces in between. For some of us, this is called meditation or prayer or consciousness or breath practice. We are “inspired” (which comes from “to breathe life into”) from all we hear and see, as well as that which is beyond ordinary sight and hearing.
We have all had our disease progressions and our lives may be very different . . . but the one constant is each other. This is the power of this circle, of Commonweal, of the friendships and closeness that arise out of a shared sense of the tenuousness of life when you have, or have had, cancer.