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Getaway 2023

National Getaway 2023 - A Newbie Review

This year I went to my first Shocking Pink Getaway. Woo hoo! I joined Shocking Pink in December 2021 (upon diagnosis) and had attended a few events in Christchurch, but the 2022 retreat was all booked out when I found out about it/got my head around it. Admittedly, I was busy returning to work after lumpectomy, chemo and radiation, all causing much fatigue, but I still had Getaway FOMO. Lesson one: book in immediately or join the waitlist. It's one year North Island, one year South Island. I live in Christchurch and knew the chosen location might be quite close to me... so when Hanmer Getaway 2023 was announced, I booked a spot immediately. There's always spots held for newbies, but I did not want to miss out. I also put my hand up to drive a few out of towners to Hamner.

Day One: Carpooling is such an excellent way to get to know everything about a couple of people (if you are stuck in a car with me, I will tell you everything!). My car buddies were Inger and Jay, who had met at Getaway 2022. This year Jetstar had lost Inger’s bag, so our first port of call was KMart to replace lost items. Lesson two: strap everything you need to your person?! We also stopped off at Greystone Wines for lunch with most of the other cars, and then it was Hanmer all the way. Of course, once I got to the Hanmer Springs Forest Camp, I politely took myself down for a nap. My fatigue goes with me everywhere. Refreshed, I joined everyone for dinner. Our numbers would hit 32 in total as the night wore on. Many introductions were made and stories shared. Names and faces were familiar from our chats online and I knew most of the committee and a few other local members from events in Christchurch. However I'd never spoken to Sarah B, more about her later, or so many others and obviously I had just so much in common with everyone. It was great to meet all my Shocking Pinksters. We could focus on bonding because of catered food and a roaring fire. We could also head off to our bunk rooms whenever we liked (we’re all adults after all - apparently). I'm very chatty but it was lovely to just absorb the vibe and listen to the conversations as well. Lesson three: it's ok to be quiet, it's ok not to drink, it's ok to do whatever. It's literally your retreat. As we went to bed, I think we all thought of friends and family that we wished could be there, but we also wished for snow!

Day Two: There was snow! How had the committee organised that so quickly? It was a light dusting, nothing to interrupt our chosen activities. After catered breakfast, many went off to clamber into a giant container and be thrown around a river. Some call this jet-boating. Sarah B and I were in the same room and also bonded on brain tumours, the humanities and being loud idiots. A very elite club! But Sarah B's advice helped me feel like I could listen to my gut and skip the wild excursion. I passed on my waterproof pants to someone braver than me. Lesson four: sharing is caring - whether that be wet weather gear or a kind ear. A small group of us went up Conical Hill instead, a lovely walk and a great chance to get to know people better (if you are stuck in a forest with me, I will tell you everything!). Some just chilled at camp. Some had facials or massages. We were all chuffed with our chosen activities and reunited for catered lunch and then it was off to the hot pools. Having a retreat where the key activity is sitting in a hot tub is genius. This is where my energy levels are at! The pools were busy (it was school holidays) but a large school of Shocking Pinksters are able to slowly take over whatever pool they want. We were a fabulous, unapologetic assortment of what breast cancer treatments do to your body and the world kept spinning. We migrated to and fro our favourite pools and some went for spa treatments. I had a lovely massage and did that thing where you promise yourself you will have massages more frequently than x. Camp, nap, catered dinner and the wonderful Kristen hosted a gin tasting! There were non-alcoholic options and very alcoholic options. All were a taste sensation! I actually vowed to drink more (I've gotten lazy since health stuff) and had forgotten about that until writing this! Oops. Lesson five: Write down decisions made when consuming gin for review later. We all went off to our bunks as it suited us and I didn't think about much at all.

Day Three: "SNOW! IT'S SNOWING! WAKE UP! IT'S SNOWING!" My new alarm clock, Sarah B, was set for 6:26am and the committee had seriously delivered! Much snows and some still falling. Lesson six: Never doubt the powers of the Shocking Pink Committee. Sarah B went off to wake everyone else up and then (somehow?) just her and I went for a walk. We weren't snowed in, but everything was beautiful. No one else was up yet, either, so I got to be the first to go down the playground slide! Winter Wonderland Walk 10/10. I don't think any snow hit Hanmer Springs town at all, which was handy for driving to town and our post-breakfast activity: The Rocket Race. In groups of 4-5, we graciously mounted our noble rocket steads and took off on a competitive quest around Hanmer Town, breaking no road rules at all as we learnt about the town's historic and present hot spots. Now, on a Getaway such as this, it clearly does not matter who the winner was. Lesson seven: we were all winners. We celebrated our common win with lunch out at an ale house and were treated to more snow flurries! Then it was a combo of camp, nap, hot pools, catered dinner and a quiet night for most of us (especially me). Anna oh so casually gave us all raffle tickets.*

Day Four: The last morning dawned clear and bright, not a snowflake to be seen - perfect conditions for driving back to Christchurch, etc. Several cars met up at Pegasus Bay Winery and lunched before splitting off. I took my car buddies back to KMart and then to their accomodation and took myself home. What a weekend! Lesson eight: take a day off work after retreat! As I write this, I’m pleased to report that I’ve started having a monthly massage. It’s all about keeping up that retreat mindset! Whilst I can’t guarantee snow at the next Getaway, I can guarantee a warm welcome, plus the chance to bond with our Shocking Pinksters. See you there!


*The vineyards, gin tasting and jet-boating activities were optional and cost extra. We did pay $150 for all catered food and $10 for linens. The rest, including accommodation, was covered by Shocking Pink raffles and fundraising!

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