Breast Cancer Survivor Helps Change Women’s Lives

Breast Cancer Recovery volunteer Leanne Widen

Breast Cancer Recovery volunteer Leanne Widen

After learning she had breast cancer eight years ago, Leanne Widen decided to attend a retreat through Breast Cancer Recovery. Her experience spurred her involvement in the organization she now volunteers for and represents, which allows her to help other women breast cancer survivors.

Madison Magazine: How did you become involved with Breast Cancer Recovery?

Leanne Widen: I attended “Sharing the Knowledge,” a conference that Breast Cancer Recovery puts on every year for breast cancer survivors and caregivers. I learned about the Infinite Boundaries retreats and attended a retreat the following summer at Madeline Island.  I have been hooked and volunteering ever since!  

MM: That’s a great connection to make. How have you participated in Breast Cancer Recovery since? 

LW: I have been privileged to be trained as a retreat staff volunteer, on the Friends of Breast Cancer Recovery committee, co-chair a retreat alumni group and am currently serving on the board of directors for Breast Cancer Recovery.

MM: After being involved in so many different aspects, which of Breast Cancer Recovery’s missions do you see working the most?

LW: Breast Cancer Recovery's mission is to provide environments for women breast cancer survivors to heal emotionally. It is truly a privilege to volunteer at a retreat in any capacity, as it allows me to see time and time again why Infinite Boundaries works.  There is something indescribable that happens to women who are on retreat and it is life changing!

MM: Life changing? How so? 

LW: Well the retreats provide a new environment for women that takes them out of their day-to-day roles and surrounds them with other survivors who understand what they’re going through. There are group therapy sessions and activities that inspire creativity and a new way of healing that you just can’t get anywhere else. 

MM: That sounds like a great resource for survivors. Did being in Madison make this program more possible than living in another city?

LW: Since I live in the Madison area, volunteering for Breast Cancer Recovery has been a no-brainer for me!  The office is conveniently located near Monona in Madison.  Retreats continue to be held throughout the state, not only in Madeline Island, but Door County, Eagle River and Wisconsin Dells.  

MM: It seems like you’ve found a perfect fit! How has Breast Cancer Recovery enhanced the Madison community?

LW: Breast Cancer Recovery is a local non-profit that spreads it wings not only throughout the state, but regionally and nationally as well.  Since its inception sixteen years ago, thousands of women breast cancer survivors have participated in Infinite Boundaries retreats.  It’s exciting to be a part of something small that has such huge, rippling effects.

MM: That’s quite the influence. How does Breast Cancer Recovery support different  types of women? 

LW: Part of the vision of Breast Cancer Recovery is to keep retreats at an affordable cost and offer scholarships so women do not have the added financial burden after enduring many months of treatment, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, and or radiation. 

MM: What a great way to help survivors! How are the funds for the scholarships raised? 

LW: Fundraisers help keep the retreat costs down significantly, which allows many women to attend who may not be able to go at the actual price.  One fundraiser is Party on the Lake. This is Breast Cancer Recovery’s signature fundraising event and is the kick off summer event in the Madison area.

MM: That party just occurred on June 18th. How did it go? 

LW: It was fantastic! We were able to raise lots of funds for our retreats and had a great time at the western-themed event. My favorite part of Party on the Lake is meeting women who have been on retreat and their families—well that and the Blind Wine Grab!  We started that a couple of years ago and it has been a lot of fun.  $25 gets you a chance to pull for a very nice bottle of wine!  The committee works very hard at bringing new ideas to keep the party fresh!

MM: That sounds really fun! What is Breast Cancer Recovery looking forward to in the upcoming year? 

LW: We want to keep getting the word out so that our retreats are full and serve any women breast cancer survivors! Our retreats are starting to attract survivors from all over the country and women who attend form bonds that keep them connected long after the retreats. It’s a great way to take that next step after treatment. 

MM: What do you want others to know about Breast Cancer Recovery? 

LW: It’s simply a wonderful organization with great energy and a huge mission!  Please pass the word about our retreats to any woman who has ever had to hear the devastating words, “You have breast cancer!”  It will change their lives! 

Breast Cancer Recovery’s Party on the Lake was held on June 18, 2013 at the Elks Club. You can help this organization by donating, holding a fundraiser or attending future events. Visit bcrecovery.org to learn more or sign up for a retreat! 

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