Cancer Moms Travel for Self-Care at Mary’s Place by the Sea

Take a moment to imagine that you’re head is pounding. You’re feeling nauseous. You’re weak and struggling to get out of the bed.

Your children are young and don’t understand that mommy needs a moment. Mommy’s body isn’t cooperating so she can’t do the things that she normally does.

Although mommy wants to.

Mommy should be focused on taking care of herself but she can’t help to think about her kids.

Because that’s what mommies do.

This is part of the struggle for a mom with cancer.

I won’t pretend to know all of the struggles but I can imagine. We’ve all been sick before and still have had to summon either the mental strength or the physical strength to still be there for our kids.

Cancer Moms Travel for Self-Care

Moms Travel for SelfCare House

There’s a “little ol” house in Orange Grove, NJ that takes care of moms battling cancer.

The truth of the matter is Mary’s Place by the Sea is neither little or old. Thankfully.

It’s a beautiful refuge constructed and curated with love by people who understand the struggles of mothers living with cancer.

Founder, Michele Gannon tried to imagine what it would be like for a mom dealing with cancer as she recovered from an illness back in 2009.

She understood that it had to be a physically, mentally, and emotionally draining journey. Thus began her quest to provide a place where women with cancer could find healing and respite.

After consulting with a cousin diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma and her friend/co-founder Maria McKeon while in the gym, she began pitching her idea to potential patients, hospitals, and local BnB sites.

Marys Place By Sea Founders
Founders Michele Gannon and Maria McKeon

What started off as a personal struggle has blossomed into an amazing non-profit organization and a beautiful home.

Through word of mouth, a dedicated board of directors, past guests, social network support groups, hustle, and God, Mary’s Place by the Sea has hosted over 8000 women.

The women who step through its doors come for the day, overnight, or they stay for two days for intentional and guided self-care.

The three-story home, built by Michele Gannon’s husband, has 8 rooms and provides everything complementary to the women who walk through its doors. This allows Mary’s Place by the Sea to serve women from all walks of life and demographics. Because as Michele points out “Cancer does not discriminate. Cancer is the great equalizer.”

As a mom of a 10-year old cancer survivor, I know this all too well.

Staff at Mary's Place by the Sea

Thanks to 125 volunteers along with highly-qualified practitioners guests can enjoy the following:

  • yoga classes
  • individual counseling
  • guided imagery
  • expressive writing
  • meditation
  • nutrition education
  • oncology massage
  • prayer
  • reflexology
  • reiki/healing touch

Local women come in weekly for counseling or what Michele calls transitional counseling which aids a woman through her journey from pre-treatment to post-treatment.

Michele also offers a support program for women after they leave Mary’s Place, sending birthday cards annually to the women who travel far to get to New Jersey.

And for the women who make their final transition, Michele mentions that the families often let her and the team know.

As a mom on the other side of cancer, there’s a special place in my heart for what Mary’s Place by the Sea is doing for the self-care needs of moms.

Besides it being a place of immense love and hope, we share a common philosophy: mom’s self-care is critical and sometimes you need to get away to focus on it.

During my son’s cancer journey, the prayer, yoga, massage therapy, meditation, reiki, reflexology, and nutritional education are some of the same activities that I sought for myself.

Those activities are the same suggestions that I make to moms of children with special needs or critical illnesses.

No matter what side of the cancer pendulum a mom swings she needs this level of self-care.

And Mary’s Place by the Sea needs donations from people who understand that struggle.

If you’d like to donate, you can do so by clicking here. And if you’re near the Orange Grove, NJ area on July 28th, enjoy “an intimate evening of music with Sarah McLachlan and Patty Griffin” to benefit the guests of Mary’s Place by the Sea.


Originally published at Mom’s Guide To Travel .