Retreat, Renew, and Rejuvenate

Pamper Yourself in Serenity and Wellness.

Relaxation, renewal, a start to a healthier lifestyle, and a little pampering all may be standard fare at day spas and destination retreats. Add to this list nutritional and lifestyle programs designed to promote cancer prevention and support survivors’ well-being, specialized treatments developed with the needs of those affected by cancer in mind, and programs to soothe the bodies and the souls of survivors, and you’ve begun to sum up the offerings of select spas and retreats where healing and wellness in the face of cancer are a top priority.

Regardless of the distinct mission of each facility, the common message of these unique spas is that anyone touched by cancer can find support, comfort, and education in their facilities. This is a reassuring message for many women who may look for additional ways to promote their health and well-being and take a truly proactive role in their own wellness beyond the care provided by their healthcare teams and treatment facilities.

We’ve profiled three establishments devoted to the wellness of people affected by cancer a healing retreat, a day spa, and a nutrition and lifestyle center each with a different emphasis on care. Programs offered address the needs of those currently undergoing treatment, caregivers, and survivors. Our three examples display the breadth of choices available, whether you’re seeking relaxation and reflection, a healthier way of life centered on prevention and wellness after diagnosis, or straight-up beauty treatments with extra sensitivity to cosmetic and physical changes caused by cancer and its treatments.

Online resources that can help you find spas and retreats both close to home and away include (see “Specialty Spa”) and Also keep in mind that many spas and retreats that don’t have cancer-specific services as part of their regular offerings do occasionally offer special rates and programs watch for these at your favorite destinations and places you’d like to visit! And remember to always consult your healthcare team before starting new activities and nutritional programs or enjoying spa services.

Renew, Reflect, and Discover:
Healing Center Retreat
Sunstone Cancer Support Centers
Tucson, Arizona
Described by president and CEO Patricia Harmon, MSW, as a “healing center,” Sunstone Cancer Support Centers have programs to heal and then some.

“Our focus is the mind/body connection,” Patricia explains of the union of these two aspects of healing body and soul which is central to Sunstone’s philosophy. The intention, she says, is to empower participants and to “offer hope and healing to people touched by cancer.” And because Sunstone can offer its services at little or no cost to participants, its resources are readily shared.

Sunstone also has therapy programs that focus on managing stress and building coping skills in the face of cancer. These weekly programs are offered at three different resource centers around the Tucson area and on the Sunstone campus, a tranquil, 14-acre ranchlike setting. The more-intensive cancer retreats take place at the Sunstone campus and typically run one to several days. Programs are available for patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and anyone feeling the impact of a cancer diagnosis who is searching for strength and solace. Retreat offerings include “Pathways Through Cancer,” designed to guide participants toward their own path to healing; a retreat dedicated to caregivers; and “Laughter: Your Inner Pharmacy,” which calls on the healing nature of humor and laughter. See for a complete list of retreats.

Jump-start Your Wellness:
Nutrition and Lifestyle Education
Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa

Aventura, Florida
Many people touched by cancer report that their experience has motivated them to make healthy lifestyle and nutritional changes. One way to jumpstart such a goal is to completely immerse yourself in educational programs that match science with practical, day-to-day application. This is the mission at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, explains Pritikin’s wellness consultant and director of women’s health, Dr. Danine Fruge. Visitors come to the center to address a range of health issues including weight loss, diabetes, and general wellness and also for curriculum developed specifically around cancer prevention, improving wellness during treatment, and preventing recurrence.

Because Pritikin’s programs are comprehensive, with an emphasis on practical instruction, guests come to stay at the Florida resort so that they are immersed in the learning process. During the standard two-week stay (shorter and longer visits are available, but a two-week minimum is encouraged for best results), guests may attend educational lectures where clinical research regarding wellness and nutrition is presented in practical terms that apply to everyday life; take cooking classes to further apply their education to real-life circumstances; and participate in supervised exercise programs, which can be particularly valuable to cancer patients who may have lost confidence in their bodies’ strength and capabilities as they return to activity. “We show people how to apply the knowledge how to do it at home. That’s what sets Pritikin apart,” says Dr. Fruge of the center’s signature hands-on, participatory approach.

Dr. Fruge reminds that Pritikin’s main focus is education; but for those who wish to add spa treatments to their visit, the center does have a full-service spa. A little pampering, after all, seems in keeping with the center’s personal approach, something that Dr. Fruge says guests who may have been rushed through appointments and procedures in a busy healthcare system really appreciate: “Many feel that they get care here they couldn’t get in the healthcare system.” She adds that visitors at Pritikin are empowered in their care for themselves through wide access to information and experts who make a point to explain how science can apply to improved health. The result is an effective learning process that motivates participants to make wise choices that support overall wellness.

Indulge: Specialty Spa Services
Escape Medical Spa and Salon

Green Bay, Wisconsin
Before any spa treatment, consult your medical team to see if the service you’re interested in is appropriate for your condition.

Whereas hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical facilities can sometimes be impersonal and intimidating to visitors, a spa or salon environment is much more likely to welcome guests with an immediate sense of comfort. The concept behind a medical spa is to offer clients medical services provided by trained healthcare professionals in addition to spa and salon services all in a setting that Escape Medical Spa describes on its Web site as “relaxing, holistic, and non-threatening.”

To further explain the synergy of medical services and a spa setting, Escape’s site states, “A medical spa integrates the medical-grade care of a clinic and the vitality and energy of a spa into one facility to offer the most advanced, comprehensive skin and health care solutions while providing luxurious, comfortable surroundings.” What makes Escape a special place for cancer patients and survivors is that it offers a menu of services to specifically address the needs of bodies and spirits touched by cancer.

Called the “Looking Forward” program, these services are designed to address symptoms of cancer and its treatment and are offered at lower prices than standard treatments. The program was conceived by a registered nurse and a massage therapist, both with cancer training, and it incorporates the expertise of two board-certified plastic surgeons, both with a special interest in post-cancer surgery breast reconstruction and treatment of skin cancers. An important goal of these services, along with cosmetic and physical benefits, is to help patients regain self-confidence by taking proactive steps toward healing. In addition to a specially trained and experienced staff who tailor these services to cancer patients’ needs, considerations include products that soothe and won’t irritate skin affected by treatment, a more gentle and tender touch for manicures and massage, and consultations that keep in mind that cosmetics are part of a greater healing process.

Escape guests can indulge in and benefit from treatments ranging from the “TLC Transformation,” a cosmetologist consultation aimed to help patients feel like themselves again when treatment may have altered appearance and general self-image, to the “Survivor Manicure,” which combats brittle and cracked nails so often caused by chemotherapy. Also offered is a plastic surgery consultation with one of Escape’s on-staff plastic surgeons, where clients can learn about reconstructive and cosmetic procedures and the associated risks and share their goals and expectations with the physician.