Hi everyone, I’m Rosie, and I’m the newest member of staff here at Shine HQ. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2016 and after following the usual treatment route of surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, I now have ongoing maintenance treatment every 3 weeks. This is because the docs think that, at one point, the cancer spread to my spine, although currently I have no active disease.
A close friend of mine told me all about Shine at the very beginning of my treatment and as soon as I went to my first Shine event, I was hooked! I decided very early on that if the opportunity to work for them ever came up then I was definitely going to apply! I took on a volunteer role of jointly running the Dorset network and then, last June, I managed to make it back to the second year of my social work degree at Bournemouth University. I was super lucky that I was able to choose my placement and so, of course, I chose Shine! However, around Christmas time that I re-evaluated the route that I was taking; trying to keep up with academic work around my treatment, while also coping with fatigue, was proving troublesome. The degree no longer felt so relevant now that I had new priorities: mainly staying alive, enjoying the time I have left (however long that might be!) and giving back to the community. As a result, I made the hard decision to leave uni and instantly felt much better! Then in January of this year, (very serendipitously!) an opening at Shine appeared that was perfect for me: part-time hours and the opportunity to get involved with all the fab work that Shine does. I applied, and the rest, as they say, is history!
One of my first jobs was to help out Hannah (who runs Shine’s Manchester network), to staff Shine’s annual North Retreat in early March. Shine’s retreats give attendees the opportunity to have a break from the stresses of living with cancer while also getting to know others in a similar situation.
Ten of us settled into a spacious and comfy farmhouse that we had hired for a weekend, in a small village not far from York. Everyone was free to do as little or as much as they liked throughout the weekend. The only thing that we asked was for everyone to muck in a little bit (if they were able) with the cooking and tidying up. If our Tesco delivery was anything to go by, we knew that we definitely weren’t going to go hungry!
Once everyone had found their rooms, we all settled in and got to know each other over a lovely home-cooked spag bol. Some people had been to Shine events before and knew a couple of members of the group, but for others this was the first Shine event that they had attended. Everyone understandably had some anxieties about spending the weekend with new people, however that soon dissipated when we realised that we were all in the same boat.
On Saturday, most of us braved the British weather and headed off to the local market town of Beverley for a bit of an explore around the shops and market stalls, and we also grabbed a bite to eat while we were out. Afterwards, we headed back to the house to either rest, play games, or go for a wander in the surrounding grounds. At this point we were also joined by the lovely Rachel (who used to volunteer to run the north East network)!
Once we had spent some time catching up, it was time to jump in some taxis and head out for a lovely dinner in the local village pub.
Sunday was again a relaxed affair. Some of us stayed at the house to play games, while others went off for a walk. The walking route ended up being a bit longer than anticipated but everyone ended up safely back at the house in time for a home-cooked roast dinner before half of the attendees packed up and made their way home.
On the final night, those of us who were left had some drinks and played some more games….Cards Against Humanity anyone?!
The next day, we were all sad to leave because it had been such an awesome experience! Those who had come not knowing anyone now no longer feel quite so isolated (especially as we have an active WhatsApp group to stay in touch) and the general consensus from everyone was that they would definitely recommend our retreats to other Shinies!
On that note, the next retreat that we have planned is in Dorset from 17th to 20th May! If you are interested in finding out more, please drop me an email to find out more (email@example.com)!