Hosted by Critical Mass

Critical Mass Young Adult Cancer Alliance Family Building Town Hall Smith Center

The National Cancer Institute estimates that each year nearly one-quarter of all new cancer diagnosis will impact men and women of reproductive age.  Cancer patients and their providers have a very short window to decide to preserve fertility whether prior to treatment or in between surgery and chemotherapy. In addition, adolescents and young adults face unique barriers.  Many providers do not discuss how cancer treatment will impact their fertility and if they do, they do not always meet strict insurance coverage requirements for coverage. Join Critical Mass for a town hall discussion about how a cancer diagnosis impacts family building options.

Our programs are open to the community, and tailored to meet the needs of people affected by cancer. Classes and workshops are free or low cost on a pay-as-you-can basis, ensuring that our programs are accessible to everyone.

About Critical Mass

Critical Mass was formed in 2006 as the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance (Alliance), a program of the LIVESTRONG Foundation, built as a volunteer-driven coalition of organizations that included universities and academic medical centers, cancer centers, community hospitals, professional societies, nonprofit/advocacy groups, and liaison members from government agencies such as NCI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The LIVESTRONG Foundation created the Alliance originally as an implementation body to address the recommendations in the groundbreaking report from the NCI’s Adolescent/Young Adult Oncology Progress Review Group in 2006, which was the first major recognition in the United States of young adults between 15-39 years old as a distinct group with unique needs, issues and even biology.

Experience the transformative power of a Smith Center Retreat. We are pleased to announce our June Retreat will be held at Dayspring Retreat Center, set on over 200 acres in Germantown, Maryland. 

We accept applications on an ongoing basis. Please contact us if you are interested in attending, at or 202.483.8600.

Our upcoming Three Day Retreats are scheduled for:

December 8-10, 2017

 Life-Enhancing Three-Day Retreats for People with Cancer

The goal of all Smith Center retreats is to empower participants to make life-affirming changes by providing tools and knowledge in a safe and caring community of others facing a cancer diagnosis.

Our three-day retreats are based on our renowned weeklong model, which we have been offering for over 20 years. They offer an opportunity for those who can’t spare significant time away from work, family or other obligations but who wish to become fully immersed in their healing.

      “I feel wiser, stronger, with more tools for my own inner healing. I am less scared
-Retreat Participant

What is a retreat like?

Smith Center retreats offer a place to explore the issues and choices that people with life-threatening illness encounter. We aim to provide a nurturing environment and experiential healing options paired with the highest quality small-group support program.

Our Three-day Retreats offer:

  • A respite from the stresses of daily life with a cancer diagnosis in a nurturing environment for mind, body, and spirit
  • An opportunity to learn about and personally explore choices in healing
  • Laura Pole teaching about cooking for people with cancerGentle, therapeutic yoga and meditation
  • Delicious, whole foods, health-supportive meals and valuable information about the connection between diet and good health
  • Group sessions with a licensed psychotherapist
  • A creativity session offering another pathway to greater self-understanding in the face of cancer
  • Skills and tools for your continuing journey

Cancer retreats provide a non-medical, educational, hands-on experience for patients and sometimes their primary caregivers. They are not a cancer therapy or treatment program.

      “It means so much to be able to stop for a moment and be heard as an individual instead of a patient.
To be heard as someone who’s going through a difficult life challenge instead of a victim.” 

Who should attend?

Our retreats are for adults with any type of cancer at any stage in the cancer journey, including remission. Spouses, significant others, and caregivers are encouraged to participate.

Over the years we have observed that Smith Center retreats are most beneficial for those who seek to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and who are receptive to the work of personal transformation.

Participants must be under the care of a physician, able to care for themselves and participate in the daily program, and well enough to devote two-and-a-half concentrated days to the program.

How do I sign up?

Smith Center strives to ensure that all retreat participants are prepared to benefit from the retreat experience. To begin the process, please request an application by emailing or by calling 202.483.8600. Our retreats are intimate and limited to 10 participants, so please apply as early as possible.

What is the Three-Day retreat Schedule like?

  • Three-day retreats begin on Friday and conclude on Sunday.
  • Arrive at noon on Friday for a light lunch and the start of the day’s activities. The day concludes at 8:30 pm following dinner and a presentation.
  • Arrive at 9 am on Saturday for yoga and depart at 7:30 pm following dinner and a day-closing activity.
  • Arrive at 9 am on Sunday for yoga and depart at 3 pm following the closing of the retreat.
  • Daily schedules will include gentle morning yoga, training in meditation, creativity workshops, group sessions, facilitated discussions about the practical and profound choices in healing, and time to relax and enjoy delicious, whole-foods meals.

Who staffs the retreats?

Smith Center retreats are staffed by highly skilled professionals including a licensed psychotherapist, a yoga master, an oncology nursing specialist, a health-supportive chef, an art therapist, wellness educators, and bodyworkers. There is a one-to-one participant to staff ratio. 

Where are Three-Day Retreats held?


We are pleased to announce our June Retreat will be held at Dayspring Retreat Center, set on over 200 acres in Germantown, Maryland.

Driving directions to Dayspring Retreat Center

What is the cost of the three-day Retreat?

The cost for this three-day program is $850 per person, which includies individual accommodations and all meals. Please note that participants’ fees cover just a portion of the cost to Smith Center to offer this retreat. The fee is generously supplemented by contributions from past participants and other friends who help us keep the price as reasonable as possible.

Partial scholarship assistance is available on a limited basis to those for whom the full fee is a barrier to participation.

Spouses and other close support people are welcome to enroll at the same fee and with full participation in the retreat program.

For more information
Call: 202.483.8600

with Julia Rowland, Ph.D.

Cancer Caregivers Support Group with Julia Rowland

Cancer caregivers are the ‘hidden’ survivors in the cancer journey, and many wonder if the help they provide is useful; yet research tells us that caregivers are vital to the wellbeing of their care recipient, and caregivers will play an increasingly important role in improving care and outcomes for their loved ones in the future.

This support group, led by a licensed psychologist, is designed to provide cancer caregivers with the opportunity to meet other caregivers, learn about useful tools for self-care, and explore ways to thrive in the caregiving role.

Please RSVP to us at 202.483.8600 prior to your first visit.


About Julia H. Rowland, Ph.D.

Dr. Rowland, newly named Senior Strategic Advisor to Smith Center, comes to this position as a long-time clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of psychosocial aspects of cancer. She has worked with and conducted competitively funded research among both pediatric and adult cancer survivors and their families, published broadly in psycho-oncology and co-edited the ground-breaking text, Handbook of Psychooncology.  Dr. Rowland received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in psychosocial oncology. While at MSKCC, where she held joint appointments in pediatrics and neurology, Dr. Rowland helped to develop and was the first Director of the Post-Treatment Resource Program, one of the first non-medical survivorship care programs to be offered by a major cancer center in the U.S. In 1990 Dr. Rowland moved to Washington, DC to become founding Director of the Psycho-Oncology Program at Georgetown University and the Lombardi Cancer Center. Nine years later, in September of 1999, she was recruited to the National Cancer Institute to become the first, full-time Director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship, a position in which she served for 18 years, championing the growth of survivorship research and care, before stepping down in September 2017 to assume her new role at Smith Center.