“Becoming Well Within” Conference Brings Cancer Survivors Together for a Day of Inspiration

In an effort to ensure the continued health and wellness of cancer survivors, Minnesota Oncology, in partnership with holistic nonprofit wellness resource center Well Within, presented “Becoming Well Within”, a one-day cancer survivorship conference on Saturday, September 14, at Prom Center in Oakdale. More than 250 survivors of 29 different types of cancer and their caregivers were invited a day of inspiration, connections, laughter and learning.

View photos of the conference here. (Photos courtesy of LK Fotography.)

What is “Survivorship”?

“We define survivorship from the time of diagnosis and continuing through treatment and afterwards until the end of life,” said Mary Treacy O’Keefe, cofounder and president of Well Within. “A cancer diagnosis causes physical, emotional and spiritual distress,” O’Keefe explained. “Patients and their families may experience a broad range of emotions ranging from fear, anger, depression, fatigue and a sense of extreme loss.”

At times, O’Keefe said, these emotions can impact the patient’s ability to cope with the demands of daily living. “When that happens, it is important to have resources available to help them regain their balance,” she said.

Minnesota Oncology and Well Within offer programs to support cancer survivors after their treatment ends. Minnesota Oncology’s Survivorship Program includes evaluating distress, nutrition therapy, counseling, physical rehabilitation, spiritual care and advanced care planning. “From diagnosis to end of life, survivorship care focuses on improving a cancer survivors’ quality of life,” said Michele O’Brien, RN and facilitator of Minnesota Oncology’s survivorship program. “This includes their physical, social, emotional and functional well-being, and the emotional health of their families and caregivers.”

Featured speakers for the “Becoming Well Within” conference were:

  • Ruth Bachman, cancer survivor and author of “Growing Through the Narrow Spots”
    Using humor and her own experiences, Ruth discussed ways for cancer survivors and their loves ones to discover and enhance their capacity to embrace the inevitability of change and move forward.
  • Brenda Elsagher, cancer survivor, humorist and author of “If the Battle’s Over, Why Am I Still In Uniform?”
    A colorectal cancer survivor, Brenda turned her bleak situation into humorous stories that have educated and entertained thousands across the country.
  • Henry Emmons, MD, PhD, resiliency expert and author of “The Chemistry of Joy” and “The Chemistry of Calm”
    Blending new neuroscience with ancient wisdom traditions, Dr. Emmons explored what it takes to cultivate inner calm and joy, and to protect our brains throughout our lives.
  • Cami Smalley, MA, wellness coach and facilitator of Well Within’s Holistic Survivorship Program
    Cami shared 10 Tips for Holistic Wellbeing and several strategies that will help survivor’s focus on increasing their vitality and rebuilding their health.

What Attendees Had to Say

“I really enjoyed the focus on being supported by others who are in the same situation. I loved the energy the conference provided.”

“The most beneficial aspect of today was HOPE! Hope in changing ourselves, to have joy today, to be free from pain for even a moment.”

“Ruth was amazing! Thanks for adding humor when people need it!”

“It was absolutely fabulous! I can’t thank you enough for giving me hope!”

“The comedian was the best medicine possible! Excellent choice and variety of speakers.”

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Thank you to the additional sponsors who helped make this conference possible:

Gold Sponsor:

Gayle Force Winds (Gayle Cartier)

Silver Sponsor:

Allina Health Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

Bronze Sponsors:

COR Retreat
Key Medical
Partners in Resilience
Well Within Board of Directors
Dr. Paul Berry and Kathy Calabria
The Hourglass Fund Project
Dan and Mary Treacy O’Keefe

Promotional Sponsors:

Angel Foundation
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute
University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing

Scholarship Fund Donors:

Ruth Bachman
Gayle Cartier
Cami Smalley
Carmela and Bob Hobbins
Patricia Vanderlust




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