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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Summer Camp, Fall Retreat Provide Breast Cancer Support : “Camp Lightheart has been an overwhelming success.”

Camp Lightheart 2017

Breast cancer patients don’t live in a vacuum. Their families—especially their children—also need support. That’s the mission of Camp Lightheart, which takes place this summer from August 5 to 8 at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck.

There are few resources dedicated to the families of breast cancer patients, and so Breast Cancer Options—a grassroots nonprofit organization serving six Hudson Valley counties—launched Camp Lightheart in 2007 to help fill the void, says the organization’s executive director, Hope Nemiroff.

Therapeutic for Kids

“Camp Lightheart has been an overwhelming success,” she says. “It gives children who have a parent with breast cancer, or have lost a parent to the disease, an extraordinary opportunity to have fun as well as discuss their situations in a safe, nurturing and loving environment with professional staff facilitators.” 

Through activities organized by skilled staff, campers are given opportunities to talk about their individual situations. Because they share the common bond of a parent diagnosed with breast cancer, they feel less isolated or different, Nemiroff says.  

“The camp experience is something very special—something that is about them and for them. It is our belief that through deep listening and understanding as well as a lot of shared fun, we help each child develop individual strategies for coping. We also believe that the children offer much-needed support to one another. Our junior staff are all former campers that ask to come back because camp helped them when they needed it.”

Nemiroff says family members have reported that their children come back from camp much less stressed and more willing to discuss breast cancer and their fears. The campers also tend stay in touch with each other and the staff.

Metastatic Cancer Retreat

Breast Cancer Options will host a retreat for women with metastatic breast cancer from October 22 to 26 at the Omega Institute, which is making an in-kind contribution of room, board, meeting space and the use of all facilities on its 195-acre campus.

“We developed this free program in response to the feelings expressed by women with metastatic breast cancer that they need special services and are largely overlooked in the upbeat early detection-survivorship mentality that dominates public perceptions about breast cancer,” Nemiroff says.

The retreat provides a supportive environment where participants share in guided discussions about issues specific to women with metastatic breast cancer, including living with unending and often-changing treatment, facing the specter of death, and dealing with difficult feelings and stress.

Breast Cancer Options serves Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, Greene, Orange and Sullivan Counties, providing peer-led support, advocacy and educational services for women with breast cancer. For more info, call 845.339.4673, email [email protected] or visit