Cancer patients and survivors celebrate Camp Bluebird's 28th retreat

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The first camp for cancer patients and survivors in Mississippi is celebrating its 28th retreat this weekend at Paul B. Johnson state park. Campers enjoy a two and a half day retreat of rest and relaxation.

Forrest General's Oncology Service Line Administrator Joe Marcello said its a time for companionship.

"Knowing that they are part of a family, of other cancer patients, this is what happens every year when they come here" said Marcello. "Everyone comes together, a lot of the same faces, this year we got a lot of new campers, and they walk away knowing that they got their brothers and sisters with them.”

Campers enjoy games, recreational and spiritual activities too. Marcello said, “They talk about things that is unique to each other, different kinds of cancer."

"So this is like a little piece of heaven where everyone comes together and they have a great time" said Marcello.

The purpose of the retreat is to promote a sense of well-being among campers. It teaches them how to live with cancer and treatments.

This is Roxy Hamilton's 15th year attending Camp Bluebird. In 2002 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, but is now cancer free.

“A chance for everyone to be able to embrace the love that is being shown here, and the way they put things together for each one of us" said Hamilton.

Breast cancer survivor, Beckie Tolbert agrees it is a time for people with cancer to come together and relate to one another. In 2014 she was diagnosed and has been cancer free herself too.

Tolbert said, “This is my third year, and I come a lot of times in remembrance, of some friends that we lost over the year."

"To me and other friends that are new coming, that we are going to get to know, really those bonds that we build as we are here" Tolbert said.

Campers told FOX 23 news they are already excited for next year's camp.

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