When I meet another cancer survivor, I rarely feel as if I'm meeting a stranger. Why? Because there are no strangers in the cancer community. Before words or histories are shared, we already understand. We get it!
I was overly excited about meeting men and women with whom I shared a story. Before I'd spent time with any of them, I'd imagined that our stories shared a common theme. Flashed throughout the pages, I knew I'd find words of STRENGTH and COURAGE. I'd already declared that everyone that I'd meet would be much more than any diagnosis and far greater than the scars cancer might have left behind. I knew these things to be true well before we made formal introductions on our first night together.
I boarded the plan to travel 1,401 miles from Georgia to Colorado with an excitement usually reserved for kiddos the night before Christmas. I knew that I'd be able to meet people with whom I'd hopefully remain friends for a lifetime. I knew that I'd create new memories and tackle new adventures. I knew that I'd see snow like I'd never seen before. What I did not know is that in just a week's time, I'd bond so deeply with my camp mates.
What happened when a Kentucky-born gal who is not all that fond of the cold traveled to Colorado where temps often fall to single digits? She played in the snow. She marveled at the icicles that formed. She appreciated what the crunch of snow sounded like beneath her feet. She breathed. She exhaled. She lived. This Kentucky gal was awestruck by God's personally painted canvas. Have you ever seen something so awesomely beautiful that it takes your breath away? I took deep breaths daily and often. The air was cool, clean, and crisp. If there ever was a "sky blue," I saw it ... there in Colorado. When I took in the beauty all around me, it was as though I inhaled HOPE with every breath. As I inhaled HOPE, I buried fear. The two -- hope and fear -- can't (so) easily coexist.
Beyond the excitement of every day's activities, Epic Experience gave us a priceless gift -- HOPE. Whether we were taking on physical feats or laughing until we cried through games, we were given an opportunity to live beyond cancer.
We were Two Dudes and Seven Chicks, who may not have been totally certain what we'd get out of a week with individuals we'd never met. But, I believe, it's safe to say what we were able to gain in a week's time will remain with us always.
Before the plane took off for my return trip home, I thought about the story we'd written individually and collectively. We were strong and courageous. I knew we would be. We'd been given an opportunity to write a chapter that was not primarily focused on cancer but weighed considerably in our lives. As quickly as the week came, it went. What a fun-filled week!!! Time flies when you're having fun. Our time together proved this to be so very true!
I personally believe no one I meet is by happenchance. I am not quite sure why a tear fell as the plane took off. It was one of the things I least expected. Physically, I said farewell to *Blue *Dancer *Rosy *Cedar *Ms J * Mo *Sailor *Blunt *Mama Lou *Wingman *Edge *Sunshine *Shenanigans *Maverick *Iggy *Leo; however, I'll hold the week I had at camp, who affectionately became Two Dudes and Seven Chicks (and volunteers), forever in my heart. For sure.
Hugs and High 5s, CC (aka *Loosey Goosey) *camp names
THANK YOU EPIC EXPERIENCE for giving us an EPIC WEEK!
Epic Experience offers adventure camps for adult cancer thrivers to move past the three words “I HAVE CANCER”. Epic Experience seeks to engage individuals whose lives have been affected by cancer in the healing process by providing a camp where participants can experience adventure in peaceful surroundings, and establish a supportive community among fellow survivors.
To learn more about Epic Experience, donate, or attend a camp - please visit http://www.epicexperience.org/