The Lavender Inn created a program called InnCourage, a 3-day and 2-night retreat for under-served women undergoing treatment for cancer, mostly referred from various local hospitals/oncology departments across the county. These 3 days are a respite for them from their everyday issues they are dealing which are compounded by the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of having cancer. They are treated to facials, massages, a healthy cooking class, an easy hike, and a session with a make-up specialist or American Cancer Look Good Feel Better make-up instruction program. We have an experienced counselor onsite for the 3 days for one-on-one counseling and group counseling, all optional. Topics covered include self-care, accepting help from others and allowing others to care of you, stress reduction, how to advocate for yourself with medical staff, and relationships with family members. Most importantly, the women identify and support each other for what they are going through. The retreat has proven that the women form a bond, and their testimonies affirm that the retreat is “transformational” in their lives.
The innovative and effective cancer retreat explores healthy lifestyles with a holistic approach while giving women a time for relaxation, rejuvenation and renewal. On the last day, the family and friends are invited to join them at the Lavender Inn for a reception.
InnCourage – The Ladies of Lavender
Cancer doesn’t take holidays. But for ten survivors, the tranquility of a local inn is just what the doctor ordered.
Talking about life, cancer, and life with cancer. These are not light topics. But when ten women battling the disease spent a few days together at Ojai’s Lavender Inn, a welcome weightlessness checked in. This was an opportunity for the ladies to lounge around in their pajamas, like they did back when their worries were much smaller.
Outdoors, in mid-January, the temperatures reminded that it was still wintertime. Yet indoors, standing in a pool of sunlight, the woman in her 50’s with a towel wrapped in a turban around her head had a smile on her face. She held up her newly manicured nails for everyone to see.
Her hands with red-tipped nails, were graceful, and her cheeks had a radiant glow. Yes she was a cancer patient, who had lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, yet in this moment she was Queen for the Day.
And she was not alone. She was surrounded by a “sisterhood” of 10 women who were undergoing cancer treatment at the Ventura County Medical Center in California. They had been invited to take part in a free, three-day transformational retreat called InnCourage at the Lavender Inn.
Many of these women would be considered “under-served,” that is, at home they might be facing personal or financial challenges that would make it difficult for them to pay for, or take time off to enjoy such a personal attention.
Over the three days, they would be welcomed at pajama party breakfasts, pampered with manicures, pedicures, massages, and facials, and be invited on mid-day walks in the garden and on local trails. In the spacious kitchen at the Lavender Inn, they could participate in healthy cooking classes using fresh fruits and vegetables provided by local farmers, and prepare meals for each other. Individual counseling and group therapy sessions were interwoven with nap times. In the evenings, they were treated to fine dining at nearby restaurants and fireside chats back at the Inn.
Now in its eleventh year, InnCourage is the inspiration of Kathy Hartley, owner of the Lavender Inn. She realized how important it is for people who have been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing treatment, to stay connected to community, family and friends.
Women who participate in the bi-annual retreats say it has been a transformation and even magiical for them. Some groups of women still get together after their retreat to support each other and remain connected. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the retreats have been postponed since the women are medically at a higher risk to exposure to Covid. We at Lavender Inn thank these women through the years who have touched our lives!