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Breast Cancer Resource Center - TravelStorys

Healing Trails

Location Trip Time Travel Type
New Jersey 1 hour

Breast Cancer Resource Center

Nature's healing force is embodied in the countless stories of people whose broken spirits and bodies were mended by being outdoors. Many such stories begin with the work done by the Breast Cancer Resource Center, or BCRC. The BCRC, a program of the Princeton YWCA, provides support services to breast cancer patients and survivors. The center is located in a "warm and welcoming" residence called the Clubhouse, on D&R Greenway's Conservation Campus. It's an ideal location, right on a trail that leads to woods and meadows, because the BCRC encourages women to draw strength from nature's healing power. Paula Flory, BCRC's executive director, says, "We connect people with nature, which is integral to recovery. Feeling the sunshine on your face ...hearing the leaves rustling ...the meditative quality of being completely present while you walk on the trail. All are healing experiences." Paula knows about nature's healing firsthand. She's a breast cancer survivor, too. The disease itself was a frightening, stressful event. But a bigger shock to her system was the treatment. "I was 47," she recalls, "in the best shape in my life -- and I didn't know what cancer treatment would be like. It was a horror story in a way I didn't realize it would be. It messed with my brain -- it made me depressed and hopeless. I was normally an upbeat person. It was a chemical imbalance induced by the chemotherapy. But when I went outdoors, took my shoes and socks off and put my feet in the grass, and lifted my face to the sun, I was filled with hope. Even with all the other resources available to me, including family and friends, nothing was as effective as the healing properties of nature. That moment made me realize that I could feel good every day: I could take walks in the woods." The BCRC encourages women to connect with nature. Staff lead walks and hikes, as well as outdoors activities such as yoga. "Breast cancer patients think they should be down and out," says Paula, "but in most cases they need just the opposite. The best recovery advice given to me was one word. My oncologist said: 'Walk.' " Physical activity is a well-established prescription for cancer patients and survivors that has been shown to improve treatment outcomes and reduce recurrence of the disease. Clinical research is beginning to support the notion that activity outdoors, in nature, further improves people's physical and mental health. Even for people who are unable to walk, being active in nature is healing. The BCRC's location on an accessible portion of the Healing Trail is a gateway to nature's own treatment and recovery center, a health resort that is open to all and free to everyone.

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