Travel Story Journeys of wellness in Kerala

Cathy Brown holidaying in Peru.
Photo of Angie Tomlinson

Cancer survivor Cathy Brown aims to inspire others with her Aruvedic retreats in India.

Diagnosed with secondary melanoma with a grim outlook, Cathy Brown has since turned her ordeal into a healing journey for others, selling out her Journeys of the Spirit wellness retreats a year in advance.

When Cathy was diagnosed her children were six and eight and doctors had given her a few months to live. Her cancer is now in remission, and has been for 24 years. 

Her life’s work is now as an advocate for health and wellbeing. Since her diagnosis Cathy has worked with Cancer Support WA in Cottesloe, where she was approached by Journeys of the Spirit founder Julie Baker to lead Ayurvedic wellness retreats in India.

Now Cathy is into her fourth year of leading the journeys, selling out the retreats and looking to branch out.

Julie and Cathy will head to Hawaii in July to set up a retreat there. The Hawaii retreat is expected to happen mid-2018.

They are also assessing Scotland and South Africa as prospective destinations.

Cathy says destinations are selected based on being able to connect with the ancient spirituality of the indigenous people of each country.

“It’s not just about going on a retreat or a holiday, it’s more about immersing yourself in the culture of the places,” she says.

The journeys Cathy leads to India are at an Ayurvedic retreat in Kerala. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian practice that treats the physical, emotional and spiritual.

She typically takes about a dozen guests on the 10 or 14-day journeys. The retreat is set in tropical surrounds overlooking the Arabian Sea. 

“The sound of the waves on the beach is mesmerising in itself,” Cathy says. “The retreat is hidden among palm trees and tropical gardens with each hut having its own space so people can reflect.”

Guests attend daily Ayurvedic, rejuvenation therapy and massage sessions, have one-on-one chats with Cathy, receive tailored vegetarian meals and take part in meditation and yoga.

“It’s not just for people that have had an illness but for people who want to prevent illness and have more awareness of what they can do for themselves. It gives people strategies and skills that they can bring into everyday life. The retreat gives them time to reflect on what is important in their life and what they would like to make of their life.

“Relationships are also important and guests can reflect on how they can improve on those. However, the most important relationship is the one with themselves. It is about giving themselves the gift of taking time out to connect with themselves.”

Cathy has also just released a book, My Answer to Cancer, which tells her journey of survival.

Picture at top: Cathy in Peru.

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