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  • Writer's pictureDr. Valerie Correa

From our Founder - Introducing the "Survivor Path"

Hello from Val

Hello again, it’s been a while since our team members shared their thoughts on their favorite modes of healing in this blog. But I’m back to share some exciting news! Sunrise Daisy is working with Menucha Retreat Center in the gorge to build and maintain what I am calling the “Survivor Path.” I wanted to share how this all came about and keep you informed about our journey to make this happen.

How it All Began First, let me share how this all began. Before I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), I had clients in my private practice who shared how devastated their lives were from a cancer diagnosis and surviving treatment. In the privacy of my therapy office, they said they wished they died - then they would not have had all the negative consequences in their lives post cancer. At a time when others saw they should be happy to be alive, they regretted that their family had gone bankrupt, their relationships had been so altered or ended and the careers they had before cancer didn't seem to fit them anymore. I thought this was terrible that these people who fought so hard to stay alive felt so unsupported in our society. So, a vision came to me of a retreat for survivors to go in order to be present in nature and explore different modalities of healing. I thought I would do this possibly when my son goes to college, and I have empty nest grief. Then in 2013, shockingly, my doctor told me I had an hour to get to the oncology wing because I had fatal levels of leukemia in my body and may not make it through the next 24 hrs. The outpouring of support for my survival and the awareness that I might not have as much time on this earth to make this vision a reality in the future motivated me to make this a reality sooner. So while I was fighting my cancer, I gathered a team and created the nonprofit Sunrise Daisy Retreat.

Sunrise Daisy Retreat in Action In preparation for the larger vision of creating a retreat, the Sunrise Daisy team proceeded to fundraise and bring awareness to our goals. We offered micro events such as a reading group, walking group and counseling. We also held a yearly weekend retreat to explore this larger vision and offered free services (massage, acupuncture, yoga, reiki, art therapy, etc.) to survivors and caregivers in attendance.

The Ultimate Setback Unfortunately, in 2020 I experienced a relapse of AML and although I survived another transplant and am leukemia-free, I have developed a long-term disability due to secondary disease from the cancer cure. As with most cancer survivors, life changes and no longer seems to fit. Part of thriving is adapting to changes and still finding purpose as opposed to hopelessness. Due to my new challenges, I felt I had to pivot my original vision but still wanted to create a way for survivors and caregivers to retreat within themselves to rediscover their inner strength to survive in new and positive ways.

Everyone Needs a New Plan A nature path with art and mental health installations at an established retreat center could give the healing outcome that I originally envisioned. So I reached out to Pink Lemonade (a wonderful nonprofit helping breast cancer survivors) and they helped facilitate a meeting with Menucha Retreat Center. Menucha Retreat Center has supported cancer survivors for many decades in their retreats and art retreats at their facilitates. Our missions aligned. How can nature heal those who feel unrooted and need to regain themselves? Menucha had seen how much their beautiful property in Corbett, Oregon overlooking the mighty Columbia River had given so much healing to others in many facets of their lives. They had a trail they could devote to the Survivor Path. I walked on this gorgeous path enclosed in great trees above and it stops with the very view I had imagined so long ago when picturing my retreat. It was a sign that the vision had found a home.

bench overlooking Columbia River Gorge
vision of view from Survivor Path

The Path Forward for All to Share Sunrise Daisy has been coordinating with Menucha's development team of the manager of the grounds and the art director around specific art installations and how this vision can come alive on the path. It has been a collaborative process and we have been fine tuning how to organize visitors to the path, what materials, artisans, and installations. It's been an inspiring process full of creativity. So how can you join in making the path materialize faster?

  1. If you know of any artisans, woodworkers, metal artisans, glass blowers, construction or lumber trades that are interested in volunteering their talents or giving us reduced costs, we can get more completed quickly.

  2. You can also donate to help compensate artisans and the products for the installations.

In future, blog posts I will be sharing my and the team’s steps to creating this path and all that’s involved including highlighting artists we have already commissioned for their work. Please keep an eye out for more posts and you can follow our journey making this vision a reality.

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