Written by Guest Blogger April Smith – Chapter 47 – June 5, 2021 at Anna Ruby Falls, GA.

The same day I received my cancer diagnosis, I left the doctor’s office and immediately went to Whole Foods on a quest to heal thyself holistically from the dis-ease that was present in my body. I always had this innate wisdom and knowing that our bodies can heal holistically, but what I did not understand at the time is that for that to happen, one needs to be whole-mind, body, and spirit.

I wasn’t ready to accept cancer as part of my life plan. I wasn’t ready to go through all of the physical changes that come with cancer care! For that reason, I denied treatment for several months.

With my faith and herbs in place I was determined to fight and win! BUT without a proper plan in place my quest to heal thyself holistically failed.

I eventually got my mind right. I listened to Spirit, built up the courage and started my cancer treatment plan. After 17 rounds of chemotherapy, a double-mastectomy, 30 days of radiation and (2) other cancer-related surgeries. Your girl is 7 years free from cancer (insert happy dance)!!

The side effects that came with cancer care were eliminated or in most cases were offset due to the herbs I was taking and overall, the change in lifestyle.

As far as physical health, it all started with a walk. Solo prayer walks around my neighborhood speaking healing over my body provided relief and comfort in so many ways. Going out into nature was one outlet that I had, which truly allowed me to calm down and not think or worry. Nature greets me with peace and a momentary solace from life’s stressors.

The same grace that nature extends to me, is extended to all of us. We just have to be open and willing to receive it.

As humans we thrive off connection, and community. Social interaction is essential to our health. So, when you combine the two: nature and human beings, beautiful things happen. Healing happens!

Just like when you combine two organizations with a similar mission, which is to help people of color heal, black women in particular, The Survivor’s Nest and Ch8sing Waterfalls beautiful things happen!

Anna Ruby Falls, Helen, GA provided the perfect backdrop for just being surrounded by bountiful nature, rejuvenates and inspires us. I was inspired by my husband Jerald, a 2-time stroke survivor who joined us for the Ch8se. He wasn’t sure what he was getting into, but he was up for the challenge. His most recent stroke occurred a little over 3 months ago and this Ch8se provided the reset needed to continue in his healing journey.

I was inspired by Shelli, a breast cancer survivor who shared her story of triumph and how she has stepped into the role of a caretaker for her mom.

I was inspired by Angelia, a 2-time breast cancer warrior, who is currently undergoing cancer care. Along the ch8se she was affected by neuropathy, but she didn’t quit! Honestly, she didn’t have a choice because her sisters Leigh and Shelli weren’t having it. They embr8ced her by the arm and provided the encouraging words, “you got this.” It was a true demonstration of The Survivor’s Nest motto,: “we’re in this together-We are Stronger Together!”

Shelitha, who is also a 2-time cancer survivor, expressed how embr8cing the ch8se provides her with restoration and positive energy. I was able to witness it firsthand for she seemed at peace. It’s evident that nature is her happy place.

I was blessed to have my family along for the adventure. Our two daughters Jakia, Briana, and our bonus daughter Garielle. They all made it clear that it won’t be their last time embr8cing the ch8se.

My vision to get cancer survivors in nature to experience the serenity of spending time in nature with friends who we can now call our sisters was perfect! Connecting and being outdoors creates the perfect breeding ground for not only our own healing, but collective healing as well. At the end of the day, we are all survivors of something. We all face challenges. Life is a series of changes and experiences that can cause stress on many different levels.

When the mind is in its natural state of peace, the human characteristics of love, care, compassion and respect for life shines brightly. That is the energy you feel when you embr8ce the ch8se.

Much appreciation for Deborah, for creating a safe space for women to connect and share their love or for some, discovering their love for green spaces. Like me and so many others, she is adamant that Black women are entitled to experience the land and all the emotions that come with it.

I’m grateful for the 20 who supported our inaugural “Stronger Together-Cha8se with a Survivor” hike and for making the day special.

Many thanks to our Creator and nature for holding space for us. A space for us to turn to catch our breath, to disconnect, and just be.