When someone receives a cancer diagnosis, it’s not merely the patient who is affected, but the lives of an entire family. For this reason, the Caring Way Cancer Resource Center began hosting “We Can Weekend” 28 years ago for families living with cancer. The weekend retreat, held at YMCA Camp Miller in Sturgeon Lake, MN, is made possible with the support of the Miller-Dwan Foundation. This year’s September event included 13 families for a total of 68 people.
The retreat provides an opportunity for family members – from mothers and fathers to siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – to have fun in an environment that allows them to connect with people in similar situations, as well as with each other. Everyone who attends is welcomed as a camper to enjoy activities such as the creation of a family banner, rock climbing, crafts, hiking, board games and more. Families also participate together in projects that reinforce positive skills for coping with cancer, improving problem solving, strengthening self-esteem and improving family communication.
The day’s activities culminate with a favorite tradition, s’mores and camp songs around the bon fire. Sunday morning features a slide show presentation, as well as a candle service to honor those with cancer. Participants came from across the region, including Ashland, WI; Ironwood, MI; the Iron Range of Minnesota; Big Falls, MN; and Grand Marais, MN. Descriptions of their weekend retreat include:
- “a great family time”
- “a moving experience”
- “so therapeutic and supportive”
- “fabulous time, stress free and loved the variety of family activities”
Colleen, staff and volunteers of We Can Weekend,
Time has dusted off our We Can Weekend experience, but hasn’t diminished the places where my heart was touched. I remember with such care that participants and staff alike embraced the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way. I heard folks telling me how grateful they were to ease the isolation of their situations. Still others said that they felt support around major life decisions they were grappling with. Thank you, thank you for making this available especially for the kids who got “one-on-one” attention and the older ones who needed a break from life and had each other. Thank you from parents who were tired. Thank you for the sustaining memories. Bless all of us.
— A grateful participant
You can help support families living with cancer and projects like We Can Weekend by giving to the Miller-Dwan Foundation today. For more information, click here or contact the Miller-Dwan Foundation at (218) 786-5829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.