Cancer sufferer on road to recovery after visit to retreat

Elizabeth Mawer.
Elizabeth Mawer.

A former Lancaster University student who has battled cancer found a retreat to the French Alps has helped her on the road to recovery.

Elizabeth Mawer, 54, spent a week in Samoëns with Nourish & Flourish retreats, which runs not for profit courses for people affected by breast cancer.

The mum-of-two, who underwent a gruelling course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, says she now feels recharged.

Elizabeth, who studied French and linguistics, said: “It was coming up to a year after treatment and I had become really unfit. I had put on weight and my body felt stiff.

“The retreat helped me in so many ways. Within a couple of days, the stiffness had gone, I felt loosened up and relaxed and had stopped aching. My fitness has very much improved too.”

The former French teacher was diagnosed in February of last year after finding a lump under her armpit.

Elizabeth, who now works in the Information Systems department of clinical trials research at Leeds University, said she was urged to see a doctor by a colleague.

She said it was an emotionally draining time but she had support from friends and family and today she is in remission.

Elizabeth suffers from lymphodeoema after her lymph nodes were removed from under her armpit during treatment. It can cause fluids to build up in soft tissues, resulting in swelling.

But Nordic Walking on the retreat was the ideal workout for her condition.

She said: “My arm swells up when I exercise but the arm action in Nordic walking helped to pump the lymph fluids out of my arm and stopped it from swelling during exertion as it normally would. It’s the perfect form of exercise for people with my condition.”

During the retreat, Elizabeth noticed her fitness quickly improved.

She said: “The first couple of days I was out of breath and had to stop. But by the third day I didn’t notice I’d walked so far.

“When I got home I felt like a new woman and would definitely like to go again. I feel rejuvenated. It was healing experience, not just physically, but mentally as well.”

She added the beautiful scenery in the French Alps made the experience all the more enjoyable.

“The scenery was absolutely breathtaking,” she said. “Everyday I stepped outside and would say ‘wow’ and I took so many photos.

“The chalet was lovely and I could watch the sunrise and sunset from the balcony.”

Nourish & Flourish Retreats are held in France, Sweden and the UK for people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer after their surgical and chemotherapy/radiotherapy treatments have finished.

The retreats cater for a maximum of six people, including the partners, friends or family of those affected by cancer, and offer exercise, relaxation and balanced nutrition.

· For more details, or call 07977518558. Alternatively, email

· You can see details of Elizabeth’s trip at