Healing Circles


Healing Circles bring together small numbers of people impacted by a condition or circumstance to share experiences and harvest collective wisdom. Healing Circles is a peer-led process by which people support each other through deep listening and shared learning. When working at its best, this collaborative conversation model leads to authentic and deep connectivity and can create wisdom and healing for participants.

Prayer Flags by Kiersten Gallagher

Ongoing Healing Circles

Healing Circle for Moms with Cancer

Monthly on the 2nd Monday of each month from 11:00am-12:00pm, with Niya Kight

This ongoing healing circle will focus on the unique needs of mothers, with children of any age, who are living with cancer. No matter where you find yourself on your journey you will have a chance to be with others who share in your experience. This shared experience will often lead to profound learning and healing.

Healing Circle for Metastatic Breast Cancer Thrivers 45+

Monthly – alternating between Wednesday evenings (5:15-6:45pm) and Friday afternoons (12:00-1:30pm), with Lisa Hahn

This healing circle is for people who are 45 and older who are living and thriving with Metastatic Breast Cancer. This peer-led circle will provide a safe place to connect, support and share with one another.

Healing Circle for Young Adults with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Monthly – alternating between Wednesday nights (8:00-9:00pm) and Saturday mornings (10:00-11:00am), with Becky Bindrim & Samara Spence

We are a demand-driven and patient-led in-person and online community support group for young women and men (diagnosed between the age of 18 – 45ish) with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in the DC, MD, and VA area. We have created this group as a means of providing both a safe community support space for people with MBC, as well as peer-led and expert-led information on living with breast cancer.

A Healing Circle – Support Group for Gay Men with Prostate Cancer

Monthly on the 4th Thursday from 7:00-8:30pm, with Kenneth Johnson

We are a group of gay men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer or who are recovering from treatment that offer support to each other. In a peer-led community, we share our experiences and understanding to help one another best deal with our own personal situations.

Strengthening Each Other: A Healing Circle for Muslim Sisters Living with Cancer

Bi-monthly on the second and fourth Monday from 12:00-1:30pm, with Gina Petonito

A safe and accepting space for Muslim sisters living with cancer to meet, share their stories, and heal together.

Grieving Together: An Ongoing Circle

Bi-monthly on the first and third Wednesday from 1:00-2:30pm, with members of the Grief Team at Healing Circles Global

If you’ve lost a loved one, a healing circle for those in grief is an opportunity to share what’s on your heart and mind, to listen, and be listened to deeply and generously. This is an ongoing circle. Therefore, you are welcome to join at any time.

Meet Our Peer-Led Healing Circles Facilitators

About Lisa Hahn

Lisa Hahn

Lisa Hahn was diagnosed with MBC de novo in the Fall of 2019. In addition to working full-time and attending doctor appointments, she is always looking for a new exercise class and tries to maintain a consistent yoga and pilates practice. Her background in the arts as a former ballet dancer and arts council program officer have given her a strong appreciation for the arts and she is a regular attendee at the Smith Center. She lives in Alexandria with her husband, two teenage boys and two cats and you can follow her on Instagram @dancingwithmbc

About Niya Kight

Niya Kight

Niya Kight was diagnosed with Stage II, ER/PR + Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in November 2019 on her 31st birthday, while 12 weeks pregnant. Once Niya reached the middle of her second trimester, she underwent a mastectomy and four rounds of chemotherapy before delivering her daughter in May. Niya is currently finishing the last four rounds of chemotherapy and next up on the road to recovery is radiation. When Niya embarked upon this journey, she chose to view it as her rebirth and shared that “she would rise healthier and stronger than ever after this spiritual transformation”. Niya has done just that as she focused inwardly to determine the changes she needed to make in her life, learned to accept help, and shared her vulnerability and experience with others. Niya is passionate about raising awareness about pregnancy and breast cancer because many people do not know that it is possible to have cancer while pregnant, let alone that it can actually be treated during pregnancy. Niya remembers the loneliness she felt while navigating breast cancer while pregnant and wants to help eliminate that additional stress for other women.

About Kenneth Johnson

Kenneth Johnson

Kenneth Johnson, of Washington, D.C., is a co-facilitator and founding member of the Healing Circle Supporting Gay Men with Prostate Cancer hosted at the Smith Center since October 2018. Kenneth was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 at the age of 50 and treated with surgery and radiation. Before volunteering with the support group, Kenneth volunteered with many LGBTQ+ organizations and community non-profits in Atlanta, GA. Now, when not enjoying his book club’s latest selection or trying to keep his heart rate up at the gym, Kenneth can be found enjoying time with his vibrant parents who will soon celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary. Kenneth is nearing the end of a 34-year career in federal service as an information technology analyst and looks forward to hitting the highways to visit family and friends around the country.

About Becky Bindrim

My name is Becky. I am a mother (of 2), wife, daughter, sister (to 3), friend, and thriver. I was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) at the age of 34 while nursing my then 14-month-old daughter. In those first few weeks I felt every single emotion there was to feel… scared, confused, grateful for another day. My oncologist at the time had referred me to the Young Adults with MBC support group at the Smith Center and it brought comfort. My concerns were validated, my anxiety eased, I felt “seen” by everyone who is walking this path with me. I was no longer alone, I was hopeful.

I am excited to co-facilitate this group and help bring comfort and support to every young adult living with this disease. This population faces unique challenges; some of us have young children, others never got the opportunity to have kids, some are trying to manage side effects while working full-time, others have quit their job and pursued their true passion. We have created a beautiful community and welcome those recently diagnosed and those who have been thriving for years.

About Samara Spence

My name is Samara. I live in Washington, DC, with my husband and 2 cats. I moved to DC in 2014 to work in the government as an attorney, and I’m still a lawyer in my professional life. I was diagnosed with MBC at age 40 after finding a lump in my own breast. Since then, my world has been turned upside down. I’ve had to learn new skills, new boundaries, and an entirely new language — I joke that I’m working on the unofficial graduate degree I never wanted in breast cancer oncology. The Young Adults with MBC group has been a silver lining for me. These amazing young people are knowledgeable, helpful, honest, and, above all, give me hope. I’m honored to co-facilitate this group with Becky.

About Gina Petonito

Gina Petonito is a retired university professor, current business and life coach, and a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with Stage IIa, ER/PR+ invasive ductal carcinoma in November 2021, upgraded to Level IIIa after surgery. She underwent treatment throughout 2022 and is currently cancer free. Determined to have a productive life despite the arduous procedures, Gina completed an 83,000-word historical fiction manuscript, and moved forward with her
businesses Writing Your Way and Academic Womxn Reclaim Your Power.

A convert to Islam since 1984, Gina created a gratitude series for Muslim women, titled 99 Days of Gratitude: A Practice for Sisters. This practice, uploaded to YouTube focuses upon one of the Beautiful Names of God each day, and suggests related supplications, gratitude items, and affirmations. The practice allowed her to place cancer into its proper perspective as one negative in a life of abundant blessings, ma sha Allah. Nevertheless, cancer often plunges a person into loneliness, which support can alleviate. I firmly believe that together we sisters can strengthen each other in our deen and in our worldly life. Together, we can come to terms with cancer, be patient AND persevere.

Gina lives in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area and spends her free time at home with her beloved family. She enjoys studying history, reading, writing, and connecting with women all over the globe.

About Healing Circles Global

Healing Circles Global is a nonprofit whose vision is to provide positive social support to anyone who asks for it. This takes place in small circles built on a framework that brings out the best in people. It encourages participants to treat one another with kindness and respect, hold one another’s stories in confidence, withhold judgment, and honor one another’s unique path to healing without advising, fixing, or rescuing.

Circle participants work together to explore the best ways to remove obstacles to healing, alleviate suffering, and deepen their capacity to heal. They also access their own inner guidance to determine where the greatest healing—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—can occur.

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