Interacting with horses can be therapeutic for women with breast cancer, says Peaceful Acres founder Nanci Beyerl.
The horses serve as companions during retreat weekends that have been held at the 156-acre Pattersonville farm for the last two years.
“They end up just becoming a true friend who accepts you no matter who you are, no matter what you look like and no matter what your history has been,” he said.
The center is holding another free retreat for breast cancer survivors on June 14-16, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Northeastern New York.
This is the third year Peaceful Acres has organized the weekend retreats. Beyerl said she was motivated to get involved with the Susan G. Komen Foundation about five years ago when her neighbor and neighbor’s daughter were diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. Later, her mother and friends were diagnosed with the illness.
“Susan G. Komen has a program that is very supportive that understands our model and methodology for wellness,” she said.
Beyerl said the retreats begin on Friday afternoon with a meet-and-greet and then a vegetarian meal provided by a local caterer. Throughout the weekend, the center offers a variety of activities including massage, yoga, acupuncture art therapy and equine therapy.
Beyerl said there are pressure points on the body that people can find and use to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression and other ailments.
Some of the facilitators and guest speakers during the retreat are also breast cancer survivors, according to Beyerl.
“It’s very empowering to see the synergy that happens here. It’s a beautiful program,” she said.
There are 15 spots available at this retreat.
Beyerl said Peaceful Acres typically doesn’t charge their individual clients, but obtains funding to run the program through grants and other organizations that refer women with breast cancer to the wellness center.
The center wants to keep people’s out-of-pocket costs to a minimum. Beyerl said she is constantly writing grants to try to obtain more funding.
“There are other people who want to attend and we don’t want to turn anyone away,” she said.
Peaceful Acres has done about eight retreats for women with breast cancer in the last couple years. Beyerl said she would like to do more. However, each retreat costs about $1,000 per person. This year, the center only got half the funding that they received the previous year, according to Beyerl.
“I would imagine that’s had something in part to do with the economy; and perhaps more organizations are applying for funding, so they get spread a little thin,” she said.
She also is working with the Stratton VA Medical Center to offer free retreats to female veterans.
Peaceful Acres is looking for sponsors to fill in the gaps in funding, according to Beyerl.
“We need champions in our community to help us to fund it,” she said.
People interested in donating to the organization or obtaining more information about the retreats can contact Beyerl at 887-3178 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.peacefulacreshorses.com.