Reflections from the 2016 Harmony Hill Retreat

From May 23-25, NLN Interim Executive Director and CEO Patricia Egan attended a retreat hosted by the Northwest Lymphedema Center at the Harmony Hill Retreat Center in Washington. The following is her report from the event.

In the tranquil, healthful setting of Harmony Hill near Hood Canal, Puget Sound, a group of 25 patients, therapists, group leaders, and helpful staff members spent uninterrupted, dedicated time together to share our stories and learn more about how our lives have been touched by lymphedema.

Harmony Hill offers beauty, serenity, and a healthful environment. There are two labyrinths, gorgeous flora, friendly fauna, and breathtaking views of the Canal. At the core of the program, we experienced group meditation, gentle yoga and movement to restore our confidence, along with music and poetry. Lynn Fass, RN, CLT, and Julie Venn, LMP, CLT, gave us excellent presentations about the lymphatic system and lymphedema so that we could better understand our disease. They distributed copies of the classic “100 Questions & Answers About Lymphedema” along with a selection of literature.

Around the tables in the Guest Lodge Dining Hall, we all got to know one another and exchange notes about our families and our journeys to Harmony Hill. Our group leaders encouraged discussion of feelings and experiences to shed light on how our lives will move forward as we tackle our health issues.

Many years ago, I took a theater workshop with an Academy Award winning actress. We explored life’s passages. In the end, we learned not just to survive. We learned how to PREVAIL. My time at Harmony Hill took me back to that workshop, long before I’d heard of lymphedema or received a diagnosis for my increasingly swollen legs. Group by group, Harmony Hill helps those who open themselves to the information imparted not just to survive, but to PREVAIL. Thank you, Northwest Lymphedema Center, for this powerful and personal program at Harmony Hill.