Cancer Retreats - CancerChoices

Cancer Retreats

For many people, a key dimension of healing is to be in community with companions who share your wound and your strong intention to find healing.

Sometimes it takes a wake-up call like cancer to bring us back to ourselves. The crisis of illness may shake us free of the life that we have created and allow us to begin a return to the life that is our own.

Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, Founder, Remen Institute for the Study of Health and Illness, and Medical Director, Commonweal Cancer Help Program

Commonweal Cancer Help Program retreats

CancerChoices is just one of the cancer-focused programs of Commonweal. The Commonweal’s Cancer Help Program has been holding retreats for people with cancer for more than 40 years. Retreats can offer powerful experiences for deep healing.

The original Commonweal Cancer Help Program was highlighted by Bill Moyer’s PBS Documentary and subsequent book, Healing and the Mind. This inspired the creation of similar programs in Callanish in Vancouver, Harmony Hill in Washington State, Revadim in Jerusalem and the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. 

During these multiday retreats, participants explore the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions of living with cancer. The key elements in the Cancer Help Program have been carefully selected and tested for decades to support the search for deep healing.

Commonweal has welcomed intimate groups of people with cancer and their loved ones to Bolinas, California, to its Cancer Help Program 7-day retreat, to its Bay Area Young Survivors 3-day retreat, and more recently to its month-long online Sanctuary program.

Learn more about the Commonweal cancer retreats

Commonweal Cancer Help Program › Bolinas, California. An intensive week-long residential retreat for people with cancer and their significant others

SANCTUARY › Online. Creating a deeply healing experience, this program meets online several times during the course of a month.

Bay Area Young Survivors › Bay area, California. Two retreats, offered alternately:

  • BAYS for women without metastases
  • Mets-in-the-City (MITC) women with metastatic cancer

Find a retreat with our friends & partners


Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Callanish creates a healing space for people who have been irrevocably changed by cancer, through week-long retreats and ongoing programs.

Harmony Hill

Union, Washington: A 3-day residential retreat to experience renewal and deep well-being.

Nancy’s List

A list of retreats for young adults, for women, for men, and for families in most regions of the US


Rehovot, Israel: Cancer support retreats to help women live better and, where possible, longer lives

Smith Center for Healing and the Arts

Washington, DC,  and online: Cancer support retreats, Healing Circles and other cancer social support, and resources


Learnings on Relationship from Over One Hundred Cancer Retreats

Janie Brown, co-founder and executive director of the Callanish Society, discusses her experience building relationships with retreat participants and the power of learning to love strangers.

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Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher

Miki Scheidel

Co-Founder and Creative Director
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Miki Scheidel is Co-founder and creative director of CancerChoices. She led the effort to transform Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies, the prior version of CancerChoices, to its current form. Miki and her family were deeply affected by her father’s transformative experience with integrative approaches to metastatic kidney cancer. That experience inspires her work as president of the Scheidel Foundation and as volunteer staff at CancerChoices. She previously worked with the US Agency for International Development and Family Health International among other roles. She received her graduate degree in international development from Georgetown University, a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from George Mason University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Gettysburg College.

Miki Scheidel Co-Founder and Creative Director


Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: February 21, 2024

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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