Deloris Donnelly says that she grew up with parents who instilled a love of nature in her. Even after her mother died of breast cancer, she said her father used nature to help her cope while living in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. Ms. Donnelly said that it was nature that helped her cope when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same age her mother was diagnosed.
Recently, Ms. Donnelly endowed the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalitions “Nurture with Nature” program in an effort to keep the program running for many years to come. The program brings together breast cancer survivors in a natural setting, teaching them about nature and providing them with support from other survivors.
“We have gone on wildflower walks, bird outings, kayaking on Killen’s Pond,” Ms. Donnelly said. “We even did a horseshoe crab count. Whatever we could think of that would bring survivors together in a natural setting. Nature is nurturing and, as a teacher at Abbott’s Mill and naturalist, I thought that it would benefit women who had been diagnose to get outside and enjoy all the beauty God has given us.”
The group meets monthly at various locations around the state. Ms. Donnelly, who now lives in Florida, said that they originally held the program at Abbott’s Mill in Milford but then expanded it to the many state parks in Delaware. She said the program began small but has now expanded statewide.
“Many of the original members are still part of the group,” Ms. Donnelly said. “This gives hope and support to the women who join who have recently been diagnosed or just completed treatment. They are able to hear stories from survivors who may be many years out from their diagnosis, get tips on how to manage treatments and their illness while enjoying the beautiful scenery found in Delaware.”
Nature has always been very important to Ms. Donnelly, who is a master gardener in three states and is working toward her master gardener certification in Florida. She said her recent endowment was designed not only to provide extra support for breast cancer survivors, but to encourage members to enjoy natural surroundings with their own family as well.
“Nature has some strong healing properties,” Ms. Donnelly said. “I found great comfort when I was in a natural setting after my diagnosis and I knew that other women would find it comforting as well. I wanted to be sure that this program could continue for a very long time.”
The Nurture with Nature Program is for women who have recently been diagnosed, are in treatment, have suffered a recurrence or are long-term survivors. To learn more about the program, contact Lois Wilkinson at 302-672-6435 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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