Volunteer October: Kathi Hansen
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Diagnosed on: March 24, 2003
Stage: Multi-focal Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage II-B
Retreat Date/Location: October 2004 at Cedar Valley
Started volunteering: October 2008. I have volunteered at both all-stages retreats and metastatic retreats.
Favorite Retreat Elements: I love everything about the retreats, but I especially cherish the music. Music is a huge part of my life and there are many songs that resonated deeply for me during my cancer experience and as a survivor. The CD of music from my retreat is a favorite of mine and I have since made other “mix tape” CDs of meaningful songs for myself and other women I know who have/had breast cancer. I also found the Letting Go Ceremony to be very powerful.Most memorable retreat experiences: When I was a retreat participant in 2004, I had the opportunity to do yoga and NIA (a kind of dance/martial arts movement activity),neither of which were familiar to me. I was still adjusting to my changed “alien” body after bilateral mastectomies without reconstruction. These activities helped me make friends with my body and feel more at home in my skin. The song “How Could Anyone Ever Tell You?” by Shaina Noll played during savasana (final relaxation pose) and my tears just flowed for the entire time. (To be honest, I spent most of that retreat in tears—everything was so powerful!) That retreat was also my first time walking a labyrinth. The labyrinth at Cedar Valley was mowed into the grass in a hollow. I was so moved by the outdoor setting and the respectful, compassionate attention the group facilitators and retreat director exhibited as they stood outside the labyrinth in support of us as we traveled its winding path.
Background: I was a special education teacher for 28 years—3 years teaching Early Childhood: Exceptional Educational Needs (3-5 year olds) and the other 25 teaching elementary students with cognitive disabilities.
Free Time Fun: I love to travel and have been all over the US including Alaska (but not Hawaii-yet!), as well as to Ireland, Wales, England,The Netherlands, Germany,France, the Galápagos Islands, Canada’s Maritime Provinces, and Iceland. Upcoming trips include Scotland, Baja California, New Zealand, and Australia. I enjoy reading,walking and hiking, and yoga. I also spend about a week each month visiting/caregiving for my elderly dad and my sister who has Down syndrome for whom I am co-guardian.
Other Volunteer Roles: I am an active volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. I am a member of the ACS CAN National Ambassador Team, an administrator of the ACS CAN Connection Facebook group, a grant reviewer for the Global Scholars Program, and a trainer for other ACS CAN volunteers. In the past I have been Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society, a consumer reviewer and helpline volunteer for Living Beyond Breast Cancer, and a hotline and match peer counselor for the now defunct Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization(which was also briefly known as Breast Cancer Network of Strength).