This is a letter written by Katie Dende to you, our Campowerment community.
My name is Katie Dende, I’m 33 and this past year I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer called Ewing Sarcoma. On April 25th 2022, I completed 10 months of chemotherapy and radiation. And over the past few months, I have dedicated my time to rebuilding my mind, body, and soul.
Following my treatment, I had my 3-month checkup scans, and the doctors discovered a new lesion on my spine and informed me that there may be possible recurrence—This information was utterly shocking and devastating for me. As one could imagine, my mind took me to some dark places, and challenged me to seek inward, and try to find the meaning in this news.
I decided to try reiki [a Japanese form of energy healing, used as alternative medicine] —something my grandmother had practiced and spoke highly of its strong healing benefits.
This led me to finding Reiki Master, Lauren Holland, who has helped me immeasurably in self-reflection and the importance of listening to my inner child.
She suggested that I apply for a scholarship to Campowerment’s 2022 retreat via their non-profit partner Give Her Camp. Typically I would consider a women’s retreat to be outside of my comfort zone (being that I am an introverted person) but somehow I knew the timing of Lauren’s invitation was the universe giving me a giant sign to listen. I knew that with my follow-up scans being the week after camp in Fall 2022, I needed to be spontaneous, say YES and apply, sharing my story for consideration! Shortly after, I got a scholarship and began packing for the adventure!
I was anxious and nervous when I arrived at camp (because I went alone and did not know anyone) but I was quickly embraced by a loving and beautiful community of women.
In our first sharing Circle, I was mesmerized by how outspoken and open so many of the women were. I remember being overwhelmed yet inspired by how raw and forthcoming everyone was. It was difficult for me to be vulnerable to a group of people I did not know, but it was also moving to realize that although everyone’s journey was different, we shared a common bond of trying to manage the issues of our life honestly. It was an all-embracing nonjudgmental environment and I felt safe. I was nervous to share but I felt the energy and strength of the women all around me.
When I reflect back on camp, what stands out were the workshops, the 80’s night, ropes course and time with my bunk sisters. I felt “free” of my worries about the future and the traumas from my past. One of the most rewarding and impactful things I took from the weekend was meeting my “bliss buddy -” the person (inspired by Anne Sussman) with whom I could hold myself accountable for finding moments of bliss each day, and vice versa. For a few days I was experiencing a new environment, meeting new people, sharing my story and emotions and creating new memories that would change me.
As a young woman in my early 30’s, after being unemployed due to treatment for a year, I could never have afforded to attend Campowerment. The donations by selfless and giving people made this possible and I will always be indebted to those who helped me attend Campowerment. When I am back to work full time I will be sure to be someone who donates to this amazing organization. In the future, I hope to bring my mom and many of my friends to this amazing, life changing experience.
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Thank you for supporting Give Her Camp. It matters.
This Giving Tuesday, we’re seeking to fund 7 more scholarships that we’ll offer inspiring women like Katie. (Because of this incredible community, as of 11/28 we’ve already funded 24 of our goal to give 30!)
If you’re called to tip the scale and unlock huge possibilities for women who are seeking connection to exactly what they need right now, please consider donating here.
Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated.
From the campfire & beyond,
The Campowerment Crew