Great Getaway Retreat because 'cancer drains everything from you - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Great Getaway Retreat because 'cancer drains everything from you'

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SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

This week, East Texas Medical Center is hosting its 16th annual Great Getaway Retreat for East Texas cancer survivors and those currently battling cancer.

The retreat is being held Tuesday through Thursday at the Pine Cove campgrounds near Chandler.

"There's no hiding here. We're all out in the open," cancer survivor Jackie Peterson said. 

For these cancer survivors, it's a needed escape with people who  understand what they're going through.

"It's light to light. This is the one time when you don't have to worry at all about someone knowing your history or medical history," Peterson said. 

The ETMC Cancer Institutes Great Getaway Retreat is a three-day escape for cancer survivors at Pine Cove Camps.

"Going to this place is a way to kind of normalize the situation. You don't have to worry about a wig, you don't have to worry about a prosthesis. You don't have to worry if something is too difficult for you to do physically, because everyone here understands. They've been there. They've walked in those shoes," ETMC support group counselor Brenda McBride said.

The survivors can get massages, get their portrait made, participate in making many different kinds of arts and crafts, but mainly, they fellowship with one another and relax.

"It's just a time to be yourself and relax and rejuvenate, because that's one thing this disease does. It just drains everything from you," McBride said. 

Jackie Peterson has been cancer-free since 2004 and says this is about connecting with others and celebrating that  they are all survivors.

"We all have the same thing, we all have cancer. We're all survivors. That is one thing we have in common, we survived by the grace of God," Peterson said.

Jackie is hoping to leave here renewed, rejuvenated and with a new circle of friends.

"New friends, a more enlightened heart than what I came in with. I'm usually on the up and up, but this is a whole new level," Peterson said.

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