A Welcome Change: Healing Winds Provide A Breath Of Fresh Air
By Sylvia Oblak
Video by Whit Wales Films & Photography
It was in 2010 that Suzanne, single mother of three and busy Burlington entrepreneur, received the devastating verdict, “You have cancer.” Numbed, grief-stricken, and frightened, she underwent countless rounds of treatments for breast cancer, beginning the long road to recovery. “I experienced first-hand how emotionally devastating and overwhelming cancer can be, not only for the patient but also for their caregivers and families,” says Suzanne Johnson, founder of Healing Winds. “We all needed a break, a respite, a time-out from cancer, but there was none.”
That experience inspired Suzanne in 2014 to start a nonprofit organization to provide private, three-hour respite sails free of charge for those who have been coping with any stage of cancer—beginning, middle, or end-of-life—any cancer, anyone, any age.
What makes this nonprofit different from others is that while focusing on the cancer patient, they also simultaneously provide respite for the caregivers and families. These sailing excursions on Lake Champlain provide relaxing, rejuvenating, and spirit-lifting experiences; an event where nominated cancer patients and their caregivers could forge lasting memories together. Suzanne named her organization Healing Winds, and, having received a donation of a 28-foot O’Day sailboat named Jubilee, she began to offer “A Day Without Cancer.”