We recognise that it may sound like madness to suggest surfing to support recovery, but bear with us. We have seen first hand the powerful impact that being in the water alone has on our mental health. Whether laying on our bellies and charging through the white water, or shredding ‘out back’, when learned together in a supportive, encouraging, ‘take it easy’ kind of way, surfing brings great reward.
Our surf lessons are aimed at beginner surfers, so no prior experience is required. Our partnership with Newquay Activity Centre means that all the equipment you need is provided, just bring a towel and a cossie or trunks.
In short, lessons will include a gentle warm-up; beach and water safety instruction to keep you safe in the water; and land and water-based surf coaching. For those of you on our weekend and week-long retreats we will look to build your skill and confidence throughout the lessons. Depending on how you are feeling physically, sessions will gradually aim to build your skills in board handling, safety ‘out back’, paddling ‘out’, catching and riding green waves, and how to surf both left and right-handed waves.
All our beginner lessons are taught in the white water at waist height so don’t worry if you are not the strongest of swimmers. And fear not, for those on our week long retreats where we might go further out in the water, just think of the surfboard as the largest float you’ll ever take into the water with you!
Our instructors are ISA qualified and trained RLSS Lifeguards so you will be in safe hands, and with advanced training in adaptability we are able to make adjustments to help with injury or reduced range of motion. We will be using really big, floaty foam boards which helps with balance, so don’t worry too much about that. Pairing up will help with carrying boards down to the water, and when in the water the boards are big and floaty so you don’t need to carry anything too heavy.
If you would like to know more about the specifics of surfing and the physical mobility you might need, please have a read through the below section and get in touch if you would like to talk any of this through with our team – we are more than happy to problem-solve with you or answer any questions.
As the saying goes, the best surfer is the one having the most fun! So we will be doing our utmost to ensure you have a great time in the water, sharing the stoke and celebrating the wipeouts as much as the epic rides!
We know that different people have different fitness levels and treatment can seriously take its toll on our bodies. In order to help you to get the most from the sessions it may be helpful for you to think about your current physical mobility, and at what point in your recovery post-treatment our retreats would be manageable for you. It might be that you are ‘good to go’ from the off, or it may be that the retreats offer you something to aim for further down the line. There is no ‘cut-off’ for when you can join us post-treatment, we know that recovery takes time.
Laying on our bellies and shooting along the waves horizontally (usually with huge grins plastered on our faces!) is great. For some, it is absolutely enough and we can stick at this, either on surfboards or bodyboards, whichever is more comfortable. For those that wish to try and surf standing up (the best bit if you ask Dannie and Helen), there is a little more skill and finesse involved, but it is entirely achievable! To help you know a little more about what this entails, the following talks you through the process of standing up and some of the mobility needed – this might give you a little bit of a guide as to when would be a good time for you to join us if you want to stand and surf.
In order to stand on a surfboard you need to be able to move through a range of positions. These include laying on or pulling yourself on to the board while it is in the water, laying on your front, pushing yourself up with your arms to a ‘table top’ kneeling position, and then moving up into a standing position. Don’t worry, all of this can be done slowly, and we generally get everyone to practice each stage several times before they move on so that they learn what feels comfortable for them, and learn to balance on the board. Again, you are welcome to knee-ride, or sit on the board rather than trying to stand if this works better for you.
If you want to then progress your surfing to the next level, being able to paddle is the next goal. This means having a range of motion in your shoulders (think: front crawl on a board). Don’t worry though, we will be on hand in the water to help send you on some epic waves if this too much of a challenge.
Surfing does take energy and is a bit of a cardio workout – knowing that fatigue is common in recovery, we will make sure to schedule lots of breaks and keep sessions short to help with pacing energy. We will also provide you with a pre-retreat guide which gives you some exercises you might like to try out at home before you join us so that you can start building your surf-specific muscle strength.
All this is easier than it sounds, and we will guide you through it with hands-on support in the water. It may be useful for you to talk with your medical team prior to attending to help you to decide when would be a good time for you to join us. If you would like to talk with our team about this too, please do get in touch.
Following consultation with adults in recovery themselves, we hope that our workshops provide an opportunity to share ideas, experiences and gain knowledge that supports you in moving forward in your life post-cancer.
On our day retreats we explore worries about cancer returning and how to manage them, drawing on shared experience, health anxiety and cognitive behavioural therapy models.
Other workshops on our weekend and week-long retreats will include exploring the impact of cancer on our identity and how to adjust to life post-cancer; considering body image post-treatment; identifying techniques for pain management and fatigue; and a specialist workshop looking at diet and nutrition.
Workshops will be facilitated by Dr Helen Reynolds, Specialist Clinical Psychologist and co-founder of SeaChange Retreats, and Dr Bhavna Oza, Qualified Doctor training in Medical Oncology, alongside other experienced professionals contributing to sessions on our week-long retreats.
Food glorious food! An absolutely essential part of our retreats, we want to ensure you are thoroughly nourished during your time with us. Working with top chefs, we will ensure you never go hungry.
Please let us know of any dietary requirements that we can cater to.
Our retreats have a fundamental core of nurturing all elements of our souls. Post-surf yoga and meditation will bring some restorative calm following your water sessions; whilst mindfulness sessions and our closing ceremonies offer a space to reflect on your journey so far and the adventures ahead of you.
For those of you on our week-long retreats you will also have the opportunity to join some of our other add-on activities, for example one-to-one counselling sessions; cancer touch massage therapy; make-overs; and yoga classes. We will share a full itinerary prior to the retreat start-date to ensure you have time to select the options that you wish to access.
Yoga lessons will be given by Morven Hamilton from Yoga by Nature, former teacher and facilitator for Penny Brohn Cancer Care and creator of the Yoga for Cancer teacher training program. All sessions will be tailored to individual physical ability levels, and no prior yoga experience is needed.