A group of friends meet on a green field surrounded by mountains.

The 14th Annual North Carolina Bladder Cancer Retreat

We all need support and to not feel alone. When I read of cancer patients who feel alone because they are not comfortable sharing their story with others, or because they do not know anyone else with this form of cancer - it makes me incredibly sad.

We all need support and feeling alone with a cancer diagnosis can make this so much more difficult to accept.

Have you met a survivor in person? Well you can!

How many of you have met someone who has or had bladder cancer? I don't mean just online or on a Zoom call, though we do connect that way also as it is easy and readily available. I mean actually in person - have a meal - "share a story in the same room" meeting someone?

Well, I am going to share how you can meet "in person" some of the people on this and other sites that you may follow, read their comments, articles, and more.

Would you like to spend some time with other bladder cancer survivors who want to talk to others with bladder cancer? Would it help to discuss their treatments, surgeries, choices, lifestyle changes? How this cancer has impacted them? How to accept the changes that cancer leaves us with?

Well, stick around and you will find out about an annual gathering of bladder cancer survivors.

Survivors gathering together

Every year people from all over the country come to Maggie Valley for the Annual North Carolina Bladder Cancer Retreat.

This year will be the 14th annual event held from September 14th to the 17th, 2023. This is a wonderful gathering of cancer survivors in a beautiful area.

I am in my 7th year of co-chairing this great weekend event and invite anyone to attend who is struggling with this diagnosis, who wants to meet other survivors, or just to gain more information about this disease.

Consider joining us to meet others who have walked this journey or to meet for a casual weekend in a beautiful mountain area.

How I found out about this gathering

I found this event online in 2016 on a site that I was following and decided to drive the 7 hours southeast to meet some of the people who had helped me through my cancer journey. At that time it was held at Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley and it was one of the best weekends I had ever spent.

I met a great variety of people from all over, gained more knowledge of how to deal with challenges that might impact me personally as a "bag" lady. I ate great southern food, met a man who raised orphan wolves and heard his story about them.

I listened to the stories of others and heard speakers talking about various subjects related to bladder cancer. The weather was amazing and new friendships began.

I decided this needed to be an annual trip for me and it has been. I see many of these people again as they return to the retreat every year. They have all become lifelong friends brought together originally by a challenging and, many times, unexpected diagnosis.

Coming onboard

I joined with my co-host, Nancy, who started this as a small picnic in 2009. Together we have expanded this event to a long weekend - Thursday through Sunday morning. We keep the attendance to 75 people so everyone can meet the others over these days. We do not want this to be a convention where you only meet those you sit with during a meal or a quick break in the hallway.

Our goal is for all attendees to have the opportunity to meet everyone as they share their stories with us in person, join us at a local business for a fun activity for a few hours or by the firepit each night where we relax at the end of the day.

Anyone impacted from bladder cancer may attend

It does not matter if you are newly diagnosed, a caregiver, in treatment, post-cystectomy, or a long time survivor - you are welcome.

Thursday and Friday are spent getting to know the others in a very casual setting with meet and greet meals, campfire in the evenings, and optional activities. You will be provided with a booklet containing a summary of the cancer journey of all the other attendees and their contact information.

Saturday we have speakers, handouts galore, swag, samples of products for those living with a urostomy, and lots of food, good times, and friendship. I promise you will be happy that you joined us.

Registration, scholarships, and more!

We are sending out registration packets over the next few weeks and also have an annual scholarship program that we started last year. It allows a person (and plus one, if they wish) to attend who might not have been able to due to financial reasons. The winner of this scholarship is kept confidential to protect their privacy.

We keep the cost of the retreat itself low and subsidize it with raffles, Nancy's rock painting - where all of the proceeds goes to fund this retreat. We are not a business, but a couple young seniors who want to help bladder cancer survivors find their way along this sometimes challenging road. I hope that you will consider joining us!

To learn more about the Annual North Carolina Bladder Cancer Retreat, join their Facebook group or email contact@BladderCancer.net to get connected for more information!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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