Meet the amazing team of Retreat East 2011

March 2, 2011

Retreat East in Newfoundland is fast approaching and we are getting really excited. Last week, I had my first conference call with the amazing team of facilitators and peers for this year’s Retreat and I wanted to take some time to introduce them to you.

First, a little on the roles

Our facilitators are there to lead small and big group discussions and to provide support to the group throughout the weekend. They are also there to have fun and to connect with the retreaters.

Our Peers are engaged survivors and supporters living in the region where the Retreat is taking place (or not too far), who have been to a Retreat in the past, and know first hand how it feels. Their role is to make connections with the retreaters and co-facilitate the small and full group discussions. Of course, they are also leaders in the free time silliness.

Our Facilitators

Norma D’Agostino is a clinical health psychologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, and a long time member of Young Adult Cancer Canada’s (YACC) family. Norma first offered her time and expertise to facilitate a Retreat happening in Quebec in 2006. She has been connected with YACC ever since and has facilitated many events with us. Norma is not only qualified, but she also has a true understanding of what it can mean to be a young adult cancer survivor. She works with this population daily and our programs would not be what they are today if it was not for her wisdom and feedback.

Christine Skakum is an experienced nurse working in home care in Winnipeg, MB. She is also a wonderful woman we met at Retreat Yourself 2010. Christine attended the Retreat as the supporter of her sister who is dealing with cancer. During that weekend it became clear that we wanted to do more things with Christine and she joined our team of facilitators at our last Survivor Conference 2010. She is coming back for Retreat East and we are thrilled. Not only does Christine have natural skills as a facilitator, she also knows first hand what it means to support a young adult who has cancer.

Mike Lang is also joining our group and will bring his energy and expertise to the team. We first met Mikey at the Survivor Conference in 2008. He attended as a survivor with his wife (Bonnie). We knew then that the adventure with him would not stop there. Since 2008, Mikey has attended the Retreat in 2009 and worked for YACC for about a year. He is leaving the team at the end of March to pursue other dreams to help young adults (WW2H, Peacefield) but will continue to be an important part of our programs as a facilitator. Mikey has been working in the adventure therapy field for seven years and will bring his fresh skills and energy to the group.

Finally, I myself will be a facilitator as well. I am a Social Worker by profession, but have been the Program Director at YACC for more than two years now. I feel proviledged to play that role and be able to connect face to face with survivors and supporters I have connected throughout the year with via emails. My passion relies on working with and for the young adult population and the Retreat feeds my passion fully.

Our Peer Supporters

We also have four amazing peers joining the Retreat this year.

Dawn Cleary is a breast cancer survivor who’ve attended Retreat Yourself East 2009. She has been connected and engaged with YACC since then and will bring her kindness, strength, knowledge, and skills to the team.

Renee Bennett (a.k.a. Coach) has been a YACC family member since Retreat 2007 and will be there for the second time as a peer. Renee is a two-time Non-Hodgkin’s cancer survivor, mother of two, basketball coach, and is full of energy, wisdom and humour.

Holly Shute, a breast cancer survivor from Nova Scotia, will take on the role of peer for the first time this year. Holly was part of Retreat East 2009 and has also been connected ever since. Her calm and soft voice will ease any anxiety.

Finally, Bonnie Lang, wife of Mikey and huge supporter of the young adult community, will join as a peer with the experience of a supporter. Besides being an inspiring personal trainer, Bonnie is kind, understanding, and a great listener.

That is our Retreat East 2011 team in a nutshell. Their presence will guarantee a successful event and we thank them in advance for giving us of their time and love.

Stay tune for some news from our peers themselves!


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