Interview with the Executive Director of Harmony Hill

SURVIVEiT Interview with the Executive Director of Harmony Hill

Facing cancer can leave cancer patients feeling isolated from the rest of the world. That’s why we encourage patients and caregivers to find a community of others who are going through or have been through similar experiences and to pursue opportunities that help them maintain a healthy state of mind. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Harmony Hill, a non-profit retreat center where people can experience renewal and deep well-being. Here is a quick overview of this amazing organization and a Q&A with its Executive Director, Cheryl Sesnon.

Mission of Harmony Hill:

‘Inspiring healthy living for all and transforming the lives of those affected by cancer.’

About Harmony Hill:

Harmony Hill creates the opportunity to redefine the experience of cancer. Since 1986, our cancer programs have provided over 13,000 patients, survivors, and caregivers with personal insight and emotional healing. Our in-person and virtual retreats facilitate skill building and deep processing that enables people to change habits, improve lifestyles, and open themselves to new ways of living with or surviving cancer.

For many years, Harmony Hill has served oncology healthcare professionals through retreats and wellness workshops. Last year, we began offering programs that provide all healthcare professionals—regardless of specialty—a forum in which to connect, share their experiences, and practice mental and emotional self-care skills. Finally, we offer a broad selection of healthy living and wellness retreats, workshops, and classes for the general public.


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Q: As a survivor yourself, what is the single most important piece of advice you would give someone facing cancer today?

A: Join a support group! Healing happens better in community, not isolation.

Q: As the Executive Director of Harmony Hill, what are some of the challenges you see patients and caregivers facing today?

A: Cancer can become all-consuming for both the person with cancer and their caregiver. Having cancer treatment is exhausting! It impacts your friendships, family life, relationships at work (and often your ability to work), time, money, energy, and focus. Many times, neither the person with cancer nor their caregiver have a support network to help them through their own emotional processing.

Life can become more fragile, like you are walking on eggs. You never knowing what is around the corner for your health. This can create a change in orientation, life becomes more precious.
The pandemic has had huge impacts on medical treatment. Not only is it hard on the person with cancer, but it is extremely challenging for nurses and other health care professionals. They are getting traumatized day after day, while at the same time many are leaving the healthcare profession creating staffing shortages.

Q: What makes Harmony Hill unique? Why is it important to you that you stand out in this way?

A: We do not focus on the medical aspects. We are about living purposefully; mind, body and spirit. Cancer is a life changing experience, and we want all parts of you to be cared for; your stress management, mindfulness practices, emotional processing, and lifestyle choices. Mostly, we want you to open your heart and live life with renewed purpose.

Cancer can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. Harmony Hill is committed to making our signature 3-day Cancer Retreat available for anyone, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or socio-economic status. We never want money to be a barrier! For that reason, we make this retreat available at no fee to the participant and their caregiver. Through the generosity of our supporters, we can fully sponsor people, which includes the retreat program, lodging, and delicious, nutritious food.

We recognize that the health care teams who care for cancer patients are surrounded by trauma every day. For this reason, we offer retreats and workshops to healthcare professionals. Often the hospitals will sponsor these events as a way of renewing, refreshing, and retaining their workforce. Many people leave our 2-day Nurse Renewal Retreats reconnecting to the reason they got into this line of work; their purpose.

Q: What are the greatest benefits you’ve seen patients and caregivers walk away with after attending the retreat?

A: Many people are able to completely reframe / redefine their experience of cancer. They leave our retreat with an open, grateful heart and a passion for living an intentional life.

Q: In three words, please describe the Harmony Hill retreat.

A: Compassionate. Connected. Healing

Harmony Hill