The Art of Healing: Cancer Survivors Retreat at Feather Leaf Inn This Weekend

Project Director for the Virgin Islands Breast Cancer Project, Diane Hampton, will be working on her cancer advocacy with back-to-back events all weekend at the Feather Leaf Inn on the north side of Frederiksted.

Project Director Diane Hampton at NBCC, 2024 (Photo courtesy Diane Hampton)

Hampton and Bernhard Bierlich co-founded the VI Breast Cancer Project in 2015. Their goal was to write a grant, which they did, to research breast cancer in the USVI with a focus on St. Croix.

In their work with the Yvonne A. Galiber Foundation, they found the numbers were high on St. Croix. Their initial mission was to interview and collect data on survivors to see if there was a commonality, if they shared anything different, or if the environmental conditions were impacting their health with reference to the Hovensa Oil Refinery.

“I found out about the Little Pink House of Hope in North Carolina. It’s a program funded by a woman who is a breast cancer survivor. She started having retreats for breast cancer survivors and their families,” Hampton said. 

That is how the original idea came to Hampton. She felt St.Croix had the same kind of solace and place for healing, so she began to work on retreats for cancer survivors with the first one at Villa Mill Point in Frederiksted.

Bierlich and Hampton wanted a safe place for cancer survivors to retreat. 

The evening always starts with a sunset dinner.

Hampton will kick off Friday evening with her own paper hat-making workshop. The traditional retreat sunset dinner will be served on the patio at 6:30 p.m.

Following dinner, A Memorial Tribute by activist ChenziRa Davis Kahina with a Bamboula gathering will take place under the Baobab Tree at 8:30 p.m.

Bush bath at Feather Leaf Inn 2023 facilitated by ChenziRa Davis Kahina. (Photo courtesy Diane Hampton)

Kahina will guide the special Memorial Tribute to the enslaved and free African persons who worked and transitioned on the [Feather Leaf] Butler Bay Plantation. Family and friends who have transitioned from cancer will be honored, as well. 

Attendees are asked to wear white blouses and skirts for the Bamboula Memorial Tribute. Family and friends are invited to this free event.

Kerri Swain will open with yoga Saturday morning from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. A mindful meditation session from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. will slow the pace for participants before breakfast.

Yoga class at the Pink House 2015 led by JoAnn Jones Moorhead. (Photo courtesy Diane Hampton)

A plant-based breakfast will be served and the day will advance with a Wire Sculpture Class by Waldemar Brodhurst, a Fabric Art Spray Paint Class with Yemaya Jones, and an Oil Pastel Drawing Class led by John Obafemi Jones. 

Classes will be followed with meditation, lunch, and a relaxation period.

A Buffet Dinner and Fundraiser Silent Auction will open Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. for a cost of $80.00 per person. 

Special Guest Speaker, Executive Director of the Whim Museum Sonia Jacobs Dow will share the historic beginnings of 1764 to the present Estate Butler Bay Plantation.

Swain will open Sunday’s schedule with 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. yoga and breakfast afterward. Charlene Springer’s Bush Bath, with its local herbal bush at the seaside, is an inviting respite for all who partake. 

The Feather Leaf Inn Mother’s Day Brunch is open to the public for a fee of $45 and will begin serving at 11:30 a.m. 

All of the meals at Feather Leaf Inn are plant-based. This is their signature for a healthy diet.

At the end of the day, local videographer Kevin Moolenaar will interview attendees to share their retreat experience for a brief one to two minutes.

The goal is to document and submit to the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense for funding. 

“The St. Croix Foundation is the fiduciary agency for the VI Breast Cancer Project. The National Endowment for the Arts has changed their grant guidelines. They no longer fund organizations under the umbrella of a non-profit organization, so the funding the project was previously eligible for is no longer available,” Hampton shared. 

With Hampton’s tireless advocacy work throughout the years, she concentrated on working with breast cancer survivors. Within the last few years, she was diagnosed with cancer and has now broadened her vision to open the door to all cancer survivors, and the project has become inclusive.

From left, Diane Hampton, DIna Cruz, Vera Baquet, Fran Visco, Julie Evert, Yemaya Jones at NBCC in 2023 (Photo courtesy Diane Hampton)

In May 2023, Hampton and three St. Croix breast cancer survivors lobbied at the National Breast Cancer Coalition and visited Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett’s office in Washington, DC. This year, Hampton went alone and represented the territory. 

While in DC, Hampton met Deputy Assistant to the President for the Moonshot for Health Outcomes Office of Science and Technology Policy Danielle Carnival. Hampton has the idea that a Cancer Moonshot can happen here on St. Croix in a facility at Bohlke Airways when President Biden makes his usual visit during the Christmas Holidays. 

Hampton does not quit. She is the “Can” in Cancer, she says.

“This fundraiser will bring more awareness to what we’re doing. We want to continue an art therapy program at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in Frederiksted and at the Cane Roots Art Gallery in Christiansted. We want to host art therapy classes every month for all cancer survivors,” she said. 

This project is funded in part by the V.I. Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Sky Real Estate, Sandcastle on the Beach, St. Thomas Cancer Specialist. 

For more information:
Project Director Diane Hampton, 340-227-3879