Listen to one of the Cancer Help Program-related conversations held by The New School at Commonweal—a conversation between Commonweal Founder Michael Lerner and Psychotherapist Francis Weller, both staff at the CCHP.
The Commonweal Cancer Help Program (CCHP) is a week-long retreat for people with cancer. Our goal is to help participants live better and, where possible, longer lives. CCHP addresses the unmet needs of people with cancer. These include finding balanced information on choices in healing, mainstream and complementary therapies; exploring emotional and spiritual dimensions of cancer; discovering that illness can sometimes lead to a richer and fuller life; and experiencing genuine community with others facing a cancer diagnosis.
CCHP offers an integrated program of healing that includes daily group support sessions led by a psychotherapist, massage, yoga, meditation, deep relaxation, imagery work, symbolic learning through sandtray, poetry, exploration of sacred space, and a gourmet vegetarian diet. Evening sessions led by Commonweal co-founder Michael Lerner explore choices in healing, mainstream therapies, integrative therapies, pain and suffering, and death and dying. Widely considered the premier program of its kind in the United States, CCHP draws participants from across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
CCHP is for people at any stage in the cancer journey and their significant others. It provides an exceptionally high quality opportunity to explore the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of healing with cancer. The retreats are limited to eight or nine participants. CCHP works best for people who understand what the retreats are and believe they would benefit from participating. They also work best for people who are comfortable in small group settings and are curious about the healing process. CCHP is an educational program, not a treatment program. Participants must be under the care of a physician, able to care for themselves, able to participate in the daily program, and sufficiently medically stable to spend a week in a rural retreat setting.
Most participants find that CCHP has a powerful and lasting positive effect on their lives. After more than 170 retreats over the past twenty-five years, we have learned that the program has profound effects on anxiety, fear, loneliness, helplessness and other psychological conditions that often accompany cancer. Many participants come to CCHP with questions about next steps in treatment or in living with a serious cancer diagnosis. Participant evaluations often say that the program far exceeded their expectations.