BCA Wellness Retreat 2022

Australia's First Bladder Cancer Patient and Caregivers Retreat

A Reflection by Hans and Annie Van Den Helm



Where did those last 24 hours go? No sooner had we checked into the RACV Healesville Country Club then it was off to our designated room to meet with old friends and create new.


Our afternoon activities kicked off with a meditation/yoga session led by Daisy Sonter-Kelso. Daisy put the group through some gentle stretches and exercises. We finished off with a period of meditation. A great way to start our retreat.


This was followed by a self-introduction into as to what had led each person to come into the BCA support group. After an emotional and occasionally humorous 30 minutes we found everyone at the retreat represented a broad spectrum of humanity touched by bladder cancer.



We had patients just going through diagnosis and the early stages of treatment options, patients later advanced in care and having gone through either, radiation, chemotherapy and /or bladder removal. Patients where the cancer had returned.


As broad a spectrum of carers also attended. These are mothers, partners, siblings, extended family, and friends. Without the support of these fantastic people beside us, I would not hesitate to say many of us patients would be here to take part in our retreat.


Finally, we were so grateful for those carers who had sadly lost their loved ones. It brought home to me that not all of us may survive this insidious disease, but our support groups are so relevant to them as they find their own ways to continue.


We were then able to chill out for a few hours and come together again for a sumptuous dinner. The food was lovely. It was an opportunity to connect with people face to face. People coming together and talking about whatever they wanted and feeling heard.

Bedtime beckoned too quickly.



Next morning, we had a leisurely buffet breakfast before heading back to the James Room to hear Dr Kate Gregorevic give her Staying Alive presentation. Dr Gregorevic is a geriatrician and internal medicine physician. The presentation was tailored to provide tips we can all use in our lives to increase our physical health and mental as we progressively age.

We finished off with Daisy Sonter-Kelso leading us through another round of gentle yoga and meditation.


Too soon it was time to head home.



A massive shout out to Stephanie and Zoe and the Demikiw family. You had the vision and foresight to see such a support group was needed and continues to grow in leaps and bounds over the years.


A big thank you to all the support crew behind the scenes that made it possible. These functions just don't come together by themselves.


Finally thank you to all of you who were able to share your experiences, tears, and laughter during the last 24 hours. Take care.


Hans and Annie.









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