Thanks for having me, RYE11!April 29, 2011
A quote overheard during Popcorn. Fun and time to clear your head is what the Retreat is all about!
Since I started working with Young Adult Cancer Canada in October, I have had the pleasure of attending some program activities and events, and then Retreat Yourself East in Rocky Harbour, NL presented another opportunity to me.
I was invited to spend over four days with 13 cancer survivors, three of their supporters, and six other facilitators. I checked my schedule and said yes as soon as I made a few small arrangements.
One thing I have learned about attending YACC programs and events is it’s impossible to leave with the same lessons after each one. After the Survivor Conference in November, I left with a sense of purpose when I came to work each day. After participating in the Shave for the Brave, I was a part of a bigger community and felt a sense of compassion. After this Retreat, I feel a sense of commitment (thanks, Mikey!) to the 7,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer in Canada this year.
I have met even more people and heard even more stories. I look forward to finding ways to share them with you where the participants are willing. I learned more about what chemo does to your body, and heard of more examples of preventative surgeries.
We confronted our fears by climbing out onto the rocks of the lookout, let go of our inhibitions by playing Popcorn (a game like Charades and HedBanz, with an acting-under-a-sheet component), cried when we felt sad and laughed when we were happy (although sometimes they happened at the same time), and learned just how important support from other young adults is when you’re going through cancer.
Retreat Yourself does have scheduled programming, but there’s still room to have fun. There was a Chubby Bunny contest during the beach bonfire, an impromptu polar bear dip, many opportunities for outdoor exploration, impromptu breaks to take photos of breathtaking sunsets, and tons of bonding over our favourite YouTube videos.
I spent hours constructing an origami lily from instructions found on an iPhone with a survivor and marveled at her dedication and commitment when I would have given up long ago. She inspired me to keep going, keep trying, and keep looking for solutions if they’re not evident. It goes without saying that I’ll continue to use that lesson in my life.
The Ocean View Hotel, our home for four days, made the experience even better. They provided a comfortable atmosphere, a beautiful dining room with incredible kitchen staff who didn’t have much trouble with our unusual eating restrictions and incorporated fresh seafood as much as they could (the crab cakes and lobster linguine were incredible!), everything we needed from TVs for karaoke to stepping stools for energy work sessions, and smiling faces around every turn.
So thank you for letting me in and sharing your experiences with me. I look forward to seeing everyone again.