Yes, tomorrow is our birthday and we will be nine. What’s changed? A lot.
First, I don’t work in my old bedroom at my dad’s anymore. And while I used to work from my old bedroom, be clear that I was the only one who did, but that too has changed. I’m not the only person who works at YACC. In fact, we have an awesome crew of six full-time, dedicated, passionate, and talented people.
These six people have allowed us to establish, grow, and support amazing programs that make a difference in the lives of young adults with cancer. Because of these programs, many more young adults feel connected, inspired, informed, and supported as YACC brings them from isolation and into a community.
The issues facing young adults are more prominent and there is a slowly-building community of advocates from all stripes preparing to push our agenda to the top of the list after decades of neglect.
Our focus, which I will admit is largely my focus, is more refined than ever. I was asked a while back, “What has been your greatest obstacle to growth?” I replied honestly, as I always do, and said, “Me. I am our greatest obstacle. Specifically, my focus has been the greatest challenge for us.” We (I) are more focused than ever, and the process of getting more focused has taught me (and us) that the sharper our focus is, the more effective our efforts are. We have already seen this play out, and I am jacked to watch it happen in new ways on a bigger scale.
Given that we do have a small collection of impressive accomplishments, I would underscore them all by saying our best is yet to come. I believe that in my core. Not to negate our successes to date, but our vision sees much further down this road we’re travelling. In fact, it stretches further than we can see, and for that reason, I know we’ve got some amazing things ahead. I say this because there is much to be done, many more young adults who need to hear about our communities and events, many more professionals that need to be convinced we have different issues and require customized programs, and many more Canadians need to be engaged in our work.
And it will happen. There is much to do, and we are on it.
You know, if I break away from everything and truly get back to my mindset from nine years ago, I will say to you that a major driving force behind my vision to start YACC came from this place deep inside that I wasn’t even aware of until diagnosed with cancer in my twenties. It is a place where fear, opportunity, and a desire to make an impact collided. I had the fortune to learn that I wanted to use my life to make an impact before cancer, It definitely wasn’t in this area or in this way, but I knew I wanted to help make things a little better. At least, in my own version of better.
Facing the distinct possibility of dying at the age of 23 brings forth a ton of new and different thoughts and a new perspective on life and what’s truly important. As a single guy in his early twenties who knew he wanted to use his life to make things better, the idea of legacy came to the forefront for me. How will I be remembered? This question is not usually covered during happy-hour banter with the boys, but when dealing with your own mortality about 60 years ahead of its time, it was what rose to the top of the list for me. Young Adult Cancer Canada was my way to address that question.
My answer was never about giving something a good go, or having a solid run for a few years, it was to create something that would be sustainable, doing good stuff, and making a difference long after I’m done with it. Breaking it all away, I know this question of legacy was a major motivator behind me taking the first steps to get YACC off the ground nine years ago.
I said in a speech the other day that I take a lot of credit for giving YACC the initial push to get going. I give a lot of credit to the thousands–literally–who have jumped in to make YACC what it is today.
So as we celebrate our ninth birthday tomorrow at our annual golf tournament, I will take a few minutes to think about our very humble beginnings and another few to envision the future we will create. I’ll also say a big thank you to those many thousands of people who have helped along the way. If you are one of them, big thanks. If you aren’t, hope you can help at some point in our next nine.
Live life. Love life.