How This Journey Started
Journey to be FREE Naturally™ originated in New Hampshire in 2010 as a free cancer survivorship and healthy lifestyle program to naturally help cancer survivors stay FREE (Feel inspired, Release stress, Eat healthy, Exercise) of cancer after treatment and bridge that transition gap from cancer care to self-care. Catherine Desfosses, a 20-year cancer survivor living with lymphedema, retired paralegal and certified yoga teacher, identified a need for a comprehensive cancer support program for the whole family and was committed to provide a solution.
In 2012, Catherine and her husband retired to Asheville, North Carolina, and she brought the Journey to be FREE Naturally™ program with her. To fulfill her grand vision of opening a brick-and-mortar community cancer support and wellness center to offer support services, education, wellness programs, and sense of community free of charge to all those touched by any type of cancer, she converted the Journey to be FREE Naturally™ program into a North Carolina 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2013.
Over the next few years, Journey to be FREE focused solely on creating a solid organizational foundation to build its infrastructure upon, making strong connections within the community, cultivating relationships with cancer care providers, and forming alliances with local cancer support groups and other cancer-related nonprofit organizations.
Journey to be FREE is a member of a state-wide network of cancer survivorship professionals (NC-CSPAN) delivering cancer-related programs in North Carolina. We are currently a participant of a Duke Endowment Grant through UNC Healthcare and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Journey to be FREE is also a member of the WNC Cancer Consortium.
A Community Cancer Support & Wellness Center for WNC individuals and families impacted by cancer
Journey to be FREE is committed to be that Community Cancer Support & Wellness Center for WNC. This center will be a gathering space with a homelike setting, positive uplifting atmosphere, and caring professionals delivering ongoing guidance, support, educational workshops, wellness programs, healthy lifestyle classes, social activities, and connection to resources in ONE place, free of charge.
Individuals and families facing cancer will be surrounded by healing support and can connect with others experiencing a similar situation. Having access to such a space may be the only time people dealing with the everyday stresses and struggles associated with a cancer diagnosis can find respite, feel “free” and have a sense of normalcy in their life.
What makes Journey to be FREE unique
1) We serve individuals and families impacted by any type of cancer, at any phase, or any income level.
2) All services and programs are always free of charge to individuals and families affected by cancer.
3) A Cancer Concierge Service to help create a personalized cancer support plan for the best possible positive experience.
4) A diverse menu of ongoing programs and services to choose from to meet evolving needs and comfort levels.
5) Short-term individual or family counseling with a licensed professional counselor.
6) 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization managed by a team of volunteer professionals who have been impacted by cancer.
7) There are no paid personnel or salaries to keep operating costs low.
8) Programs and services are delivered by licensed, registered or certified professionals in their field of expertise.
9) Opportunities for people with specific skills (“careholders”) who wish to give back and help others.
10) The use of virtual technology to expand our reach to rural communities.
11) Programs, services and access to resources in one central location.
12) 100% of monies raised and donated stay in western North Carolina to support local individuals and families.
13) That ONE place to go to belong to a caring and compassionate community so that no one journeys cancer alone.