Naperville Patch Article
June 9, 2014 | By obtener33
This June three organizations came together to help cancer survivors and caregivers ‘reclaim’ themselves. Inspiration for the event started with Red Kayak Institute, which offers programs to individuals facing life challenges. Social workers from Edward Cancer Center invited patients and caregivers they knew could benefit, and equipment from TheKayakers.com made a kayak outing possible. Together these organizations offered more than a pleasant day outdoors. Their goal was to give patients and caregivers a chance to reclaim confidence lost to disease. To do that people, who already faced significant challenges, were asked to trust the journey.
The challenges outfitter Brian Lewis of The Kayakers.com faced are the kind he enjoys solving: training a diverse group of individuals, some novices, and properly fitting their equipment. During the training session, he also gave encouragement. As 26 people launched, his promise was to guide kayakers safely to the exit point.
Some of the patients have struggled with cancer for ten years or more, yet moments after the paddlers pushed away from shore transformation began. Most first time kayakers took to the water as if they had been paddling a long time. Others had some difficulty navigating shallow water and paddling around obstacles. But these were great life lessons to experience, helping them imagine the life they want to lead.
The challenge for Mary Anne Smrz and staff of Red Kayak Institute was to get participants to trust the support being offered—and then trust themselves. Physical limitations threatened to hold a couple individuals back. Novices worried about making the journey, but Mary Anne established a threshold of trust. She spoke about the kayak as a simple vessel, one without room for nonessential items. She gave paddlers a small bag of rocks and encouraged them to use the rocks as symbols and, once on the water, to toss overboard anything that no longer served them. The tone she set allowed paddlers to understand they could ‘reclaim’ themselves.
Edward Cancer Center’s social workers offer a number of other retreats and support groups, designed to help individuals deal with the burden of cancer. This is the second year Edward Cancer Center organized a kayak retreat. The success of these events showed the healing benefits of nature. A few hours on the water reopened a door to health. Social Worker, Sharon Kelleher indicated, “We were all there for a beautiful day on the river, but Mary Anne’s special touches challenged us to engage in contemplation and promised release and serenity.”
By the end of the kayak retreat, paddlers had tossed “problems” overboard. Paddling helped them understand how to live the life they imagine. They chose a beautiful, cool June morning to nurture body, mind and spirit. In the process they learned how to appreciate being on the water as a way to reclaim themselves.
For More Information about Kayaking Adventure Trips, Classes & Rentals visit The Kayakers.com .
Red Kayak Institute was established by Mary Anne Smrz in early 2013 and officially incorporated as a charity in the State of Illinois in September 2013. The Institute is in the process of formalizing its status as a 501(C)3 nonprofit. Contact them at PO Box 98, Westmont, IL 60559; firstname.lastname@example.org; (844) 733-5295, http://www.paddlinon.com/red-kayak-institute/.
Edward Cancer Center is part of Edward Hospital & Health Services, 801 S. Washington, Naperville, IL, 60540, (630) 527-3000, http://www.edward.org/cancer.