How lake swimming makes a cancer survivor feel whole again

Joy Simmonds has always loved the water. Swimming in dark lake water is her favourite. Plunging into the cold, getting her head under. It frees her mind. She feels powerful. So when Joy underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer, she couldn't wait until she was well enough to swim again.
(AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
On the edge of the Bay of Fundy there is an "art farm" called Red Clay.

Every year they host a festival called White Rabbit.

The property is a sprawling wonderland with tiny trails that lead wanderers to an orchard, a sauna, a forest, a pond, an outdoor bar, and a greenhouse that houses a pirate radio station.

This documentary aired as part of the February 28 broadcast. 
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The idea behind the festival is that artists of all kinds weave their work into the landscape. Each one picks out an area of the property and finds a way to engage with it.

The piece you are about to hear was made by documentary producer Veronica Simmonds for the pond.

Joy Simmonds has always loved the water. Swimming in dark lake water is her favourite. Plunging into the cold, getting her head under. It frees her mind. She feels powerful.

Veronica Simmonds with her mother, Joy.
So when Joy underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer, she couldn't wait until she was well enough to swim again. It brought her back to calm, and reminded her how strong she was.

You are standing in a clearing. You can hear the sound of the road behind you, and see the Bay of Fundy below.

There's a path ahead of you that leads to the pond. 

At the trailhead is wooden sign that says, "When you hear steps walk, when you don't, stop."

Under the sign is an MP3 player and headphones. Put them on. Here we go.


About the producer

Veronica Simmonds
Veronica Simmonds is an experimental radio producer. Her documentaries have aired on CBC, ABC and BBC, as well as in a weather observatory in France and a former grain silo in Norway. Her feature, Dr. Clock, was a finalist for the Prix Italia. These days she is the senior producer on the CBC series Sleepover, and she hosts a show called Braidio where she braids hair on air. She wrote a piece for The Doc Project called, 12 habits from a highly effective freelance audio producer.