Union, Washington, may not be on your regular route but there is something there that should be investigated by anyone touched by cancer. Now led by Executive Director Eric Blegen and founded in 1987 by Gretchen Schodde, MN, ARPN, FNP-BC, Harmony Hill is a place designed “to transform the lives of those affected by cancer and to inspire healthy living for all.” Through retreats and other courses, you can partake in the healing spirit that is present in the wooded landscape overlooking the Olympic Mountains and the Hood Canal. Difficult to believe but true — retreats are provided at no cost to the attendees. Harmony Hill has generous donors who believe in the mission and want to support those with cancer.
Transforming the isolation and trauma that occurs within the cancer experience is the intention set by the Harmony Hill board and staff. Extending healing through a focus on the whole person is evident through the educational workshops that are a mainstay of the curriculum. Nutrition, yoga, mindfulness, guided imagery, art and poetry are some of the ways that healing and well-being are facilitated during a retreat or class.
The opportunities to have Harmony Hill become part of you abound. They offer 3-day and 1-day retreats, as well as other workshops. Check out their website to see what is coming up: Harmonyhill.org
Recently, Harmony Hill has brought their expertise to the Swedish Cancer Institute’s (SCI) Ballard campus. Once a month, Chris Adams and Linda Covert, Harmony Hill facilitators extraordinaire, lead a Healing Circles group there. People come together to learn about stress responses and develop new skills for healing. Group discussions, journaling and creative arts help promote self-care and positive change. To join the group, call Meridithe Mendelsohn at 206-215-1743.
Those who have completed their cancer treatment at the SCI are eligible to attend a 3-day retreat at Harmony Hill from October 13th through the 15th. Cozy lodging, beautiful gardens, nature trails, labyrinths and Chef Cody’s fresh, locally sourced meals are included in your stay. You can apply at Harmonyhill.org/SCI.
Finally, Harmony Hill offers renewal retreats and workshops for health professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers and other staff, as well as customized retreats for entire workplace teams. These fee-based offerings help support the no-cost cancer programs for patients, survivors and their family members and caregivers.
We are so very lucky to have this resource in our Northwest backyard. I hope you will get a chance to enjoy the healing and hospitality at this amazing center for wellness.
Here is a sample of what participants have had to say about their time at Harmony Hill
Thank you for allowing me to go on this journey of redefining who I am after I thought cancer would define me.
Words escape me. It was loving devotion by all the staff. Whenever I fall into fear or doubt I will look over my shoulder and know the “Hill” is behind me.
Thank you for creating a safe place for me to air my fears and frustrations about my health challenges. It has really helped me to connect with other cancer survivors and hear their stories and learn coping skills for staying strong and focusing on the positive as I continue my cancer journey.
This article is from the Fall 2017 issue of Life to the Fullest, the newsletter from the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) dedicated to those with cancer, cancer survivors, and their family members and caregivers.