Reflecting on the 2010 Survivor ConferenceNovember 17, 2010
Yesterday, I started to write about the Survivor Conference which happened from November 4-8, 2010 in beautiful St. John’s, NL. Things were going okay but I was struggling a lot trying to put the experience into words. Well, I guess the universe felt I was “off” because I (or it) did something (not sure what, so I am a bit paranoid today) that erased my entire text. After some bad words came out of my mouth, most of them in French (Mother tongue they say…although my mom is not the one who taught me those specific words) I decided to leave it and get back to it the next day.
Wise decision. It is still a difficult exercise as the conference was full of emotions, connections, and growth which are not easy to describe in words, but I will attempt to transfer some of what happen to you as best as possible.
The first word that comes to mind is profound. The 2010 experience was profound in many ways. Every year, as we plan the conference our goal is to build a program that will allow connections, sharing, and learning. The conference is our opportunity to build a strong community of survivors and supporters and try and help them make the rest of their lives the best of their lives. It is also where we want to give information and tools so participants can go home and help raise the awareness on the issues facing young adults and also share about their experience with YACC with the “outside world.” Post conference, we feel these objectives were achieved and we are so excited by the possible outcomes!
Another word related to the 2010 experience is guidance. We were able to get there again this year because we had a fabulous group of committed individuals. We could feel the tightness of the group and its unity from day one. Respect, and ability to listen and give were omnipresent and gave colour to the weekend.
We also had the chance to work with an incredible and dedicated team of facilitators and I want to take this opportunity to thank them publicly. None of this would be possible if it was not for those generous and skilled ladies (sorry, only women this year). So here it is, a heartfelt thank you to Norma D’Agostino, Megan McLoed, Deborah Bridgman, Bonnie Lang, and Christine Skakum for your time, flexibility, expertise, advice, and feedback. Thank you also for your hearts; you are amazing.
In addition, speakers came and offered great presentations on topics we know are important to young adults. Dr. Rob Rutledge got us breathing deeply with a guided meditation and also look at the stressors in our lives and how we deal with them. Chef Jay Holecek, directly from San Francisco (well, as directly as you can get to NL) shared his view on food as a crucial component in healing our bodies.
We were also able to offer workshops so participants could learn skills to help in their daily lives. Chef Jay got participants to juice it up with a great blending session. Who knew you could drink a mix of beets, apples, spinach, almonds, coco milk, ginger, and more? And like it? Bonnie offered a sweating functional fitness session and Mikey got participants to think of their stories to limit awkward moments with people you have not seen in a long time. These sessions were not only informative, they were inspiring.
Another word to describe the weekend would be healing. The group was very caring and nurturing and our activities made sure we took the time and made the space to heal some wounds. The Survivor Climb was surely one powerful moment of healing. Climbing Signal Hill was something, but thanks to the initiative of Kelly (a great survivor in our community) we were not only able to use the Climb as a ritual to let go of something we needed to let go of, but also as a beautiful way to honour the survivors who could not be with us this year. Powerful.
The Wrong Way to Hope screening was another healing and inspiring moment. Thank you Mikey for bringing this to the young adult community. What a gift.
Young adults are creative and inspiring and we were lucky enough to witness that not only with the movie, but also with Daniel Stolfi’s show: Cancer Can’t Dance Like This on Sunday night. We laughed and were deeply touched by his performance. Thanks Dan (and Jen) for bringing this to SC2010.
Finally, SC2010 allowed us to take the engagement of our community to the next level. For those who participated to last year’s conference, you may remember Survivors in Action being introduced to you. This year we were ready to bring on concrete ways to get involved. Thank you all for embarking on this boat with us and paddling together, one stroke at a time.
I guess I can finish this blog by saying I am thankful. Thankful I got through writing it, but MOSTLY thankful I am part of such a strong, vibrant, inspiring, and growing community. Together, we will change the world. It’s already started.