Reel Healing – Randi Jeddis
We’re back with our March Reel Healing feature. Each month, CfR will highlight a health and wellness volunteer that serves one of our many programs including, psychosocial facilitators, medical facilitators, nutritionists and more. Meet Randi Jeddis a LCSW, who serves Casting for Recovery New Jersey. Read more below about her role at a CfR retreat and how it provides “reel” healing for breast cancer survivors and thrivers.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you became involved with Casting for Recovery.
I have been a licensed clinical social worker for thirty-five years. I have worked in a variety of clinical settings and for the last twenty years my focus has been on my full-time private practice. In 2009 I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer and in 2011 after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, I attended a CfR retreat in New Jersey. In 2012 I began volunteering as a psych-social facilitator and subsequently became co-program coordinator for the New Jersey program. Additionally, I help vet and train psych-social facilitators for other CfR programs throughout the United States.
As a LCSW who volunteers at CfR retreats, why do you believe the mental health component at the retreat is so beneficial and/or necessary?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, act, feel, and is a determinant in how we relate to others, handle stress, and make choices. A cancer diagnosis impacts a participant in more psychosocial ways than a soul can imagine. As a psych-social facilitator it is my understanding of that, together with all the weekend and nature offer, to help our participants develop additional coping skills and mechanisms. Discussing the psychosocial impact of cancer and creating a safe inclusive environment, allows the participants to focus on healing mind, body, and soul.
What sort of mental health topics do you find participants ask most often about during the retreat?
By the time we arrive at evening circle the participants have spent a solid twenty-four hours eating, talking, learning, and playing together. This sets the stage to have a deeper discussion about the more personal and distressing aspects of their cancer experiences. Topics that frequently come up include anger, family dynamics, sexual concerns, and fear of recurrence. What fills my heart at evening circle is watching the grace, understanding and compassion these initial strangers have for each other as they morph into sisters joining in tears and laughter as they share their stories. My role is to simply hold space, create a safe environment and let the process unfold.
On the whole, why do you refer some of your patients/clients to CfR retreats? Why do you think the retreats are beneficial to women who have experienced breast cancer?
I could write pages as to why I am so comfortable referring clients and any breast cancer survivor to a CfR retreat. CfR is an organization with a clear mission and continual focus on best practices in serving breast cancer survivors. This translates into providing retreats that are safe spaces for women to be able to STOP, take a breath, make new friends, and for some, experience a support group for the first time. Pair that with nature and the relaxation that fly fishing brings, and it is no surprise why 100% of attendees would recommend the program. That together with my own CfR experience satisfies my standards both as a clinician and a breast cancer survivor.