Dream Creator

Dream Creator
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Just a small town Canadian dreamer... This started as the diary of a young woman's experience with breast cancer and continues 5 years later as the diary of a woman, like many other, who has decided to take her lemons and make lemonade. **If reading this blog for the purpose of learning about my breast cancer experience, PLEASE START AT THE OLDEST POST (October 2009) AND WORK YOUR WAY FORWARD**

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


As the 33 of us, (all young adults having faced cancer in some way) sat around the pool...that is when I realized the true power of this support community.
Never in the last 19 months of cancer life and surgeries have I felt comfortable showing my scars. I have scars under each of my arm pits, I have scars in my belly button (which isn't even an original) I have a giant gash across my abdomen. I have little scars from all of my drains like polka dots across my torso, and of course there are scars on my breasts.
Every time I have gotten in to a swim suit since my surgeries, I have felt a bit uneasy. I have felt different. I have felt like I have to justify my scars or explain to everyone that they don't make me different and if they do, then they make me better than everyone else because they are war wounds.
I never do talk to anyone about it.
I just sit with them and they remind me of where I have been and sometimes I feel proud, and sometimes I feel anger.
And sometimes I feel scared.

As I lay by this pool on a hot summer day. I look around at the rest of the young survivors at this retreat and I realize, we are all the same.
Scars here, scars there....beauty everywhere. Strength everywhere.
This is probably the first time for all of us that we could remove our covers and feel completely normal and just relax and be ourselves. Because each and everyone of us understands and there is ZERO judgment.
This is the heart of a true community.
This is why the YACC support organization and it's retreats and conferences are so important.
Moments like these are priceless.

Please sponsor Kerry and I (and YACC) for the YACC surivor conference and our CLIMB!! coming in November. All money will help us and other young survivors attend conferences and retreats and will also go to YACC to help strengthen our support community and keep it up and running and growing.
SPONSOR HERE: (cut and paste the blue link and put it in your webbrowser, then click "sponsor me" on the lower left hand side of the page)


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Forever Changed ~ YACC Retreat

Hearing my neighbor complain for the 20th time about my dogs, I had to just look at her and laugh.
After the weekend I just had I can't phathom someone putting so much negative energy into something that JUST DOESN'T MATTER!!
This woman needs to have a taste of the Young Adult Cancer Canada retreat that I just went on.

On Monday, Kerry and I drove home (8 hrs) forever changed.
We signed up for this retreat months before and had no idea what we were going to experience.
I thought maybe I could wrap up some of my lingering concerns and issues and give Kerry a chance for some post-cancer support seeing as he never had any during my year of cancer.
I thought maybe I could help some others deal with their issues and maybe had some laughs with some young adults like me that I could relate to. I also knew my cancer girlfriend (I call her Kiki) was going to be there. And even though I had written to her numerous times over the year and I feel like I know her, I had actually only met her once, so this was long overdue.
The weekend ended up being MUCH more than all I had expected from it.
This retreat was unspeakable.
33 young adults filed into a beautiful Retreat lodge, sat around in a circle, eyeing each other up and when we began, we went around the circle and told our story.
There was a lot of breast cancer, there was a few lymphoma's, a few brain tumors, a couple ovarian, a lukemia and a few other rare cancers.
There were girls and boys aged early twenties to late thirties.
As we went around the circle I became aware that a few of the guests were terminal. There were people with no support systems, and people struggling with pain. Everyone had a story and the amazing thing was that even as bad as their story was, they still had fight.
Within the first 3 hours of arriving, every 33 of us, were forced to drop down our guards, and let our true colors shine.
We were raw and exposed and it was scary, but we soon learned that everyone was in the same boat and we all instantly developed a MAJOR respect for each other and unconditional love.
I never thought I was longing for a cancer friend my own age, but when I was in a room of people like me, I couldn't help but cry tears of relief. The feeling was overwhelming. I needed this. I belonged.
I didn't notice that I had been feeling like an alien over the last year and a half. But I must have, because being at this retreat in a room full of strangers, I felt like I was finally home.
The weekend consisted of group sessions where we discussed common issues between us such as "relationships and family" also "fears (of the future and recurrence etc)" another topic was "emotional health" and "re-intrajectorization" (a word made up to explain easing back into the real world after cancer)
I spoke a bit about my own personal issues, but mainly I listened. I felt like I learned more from listening than anything else. Sometimes I felt guilty when I would speak of one of my issues because ultimately there was someone else in my group who was terminal and who's situation was always worse than mine. I know that these guests didn't judge me, but somehow I just had a hard time complaining, when I was ultimately free. I think maybe that was the most therapeutic thing of all! The full on "mirror-in-the-face" showing me that my life is a gift and whatever issues I may be having, I should just deal with them and move on so that I can enjoy my life, because some people don't have that luxury.
I wish I could share some of the things I heard and witnessed but you know what? You would never understand. You had to be there. And I kind of like keeping this little treasure for myself.
All I can say is that there was no "fakeness" or superficialities. There was only love and acceptance. There was also A LOT of laughing!! I haven't laughed that hard...well...ever! I learned so much from each beautiful person there. I learned humor, I learned how to fight, I learned class, I learned grace, I learned the love of a mother, I learned the love of a husband and wife. I gained a new best friend, I learned respect and strength and resilience.
I met a beautiful young woman who has an uncureable cancer that smiles peacefully and says that she is not afraid of dying because she knows she will be re-incarnated and have a second shot at a beautiful life.
A wonderful thought from a beautiful soul.
We had cooking classes from an amazing chef.
We had sun tan pool time, and watched a front flip into a tube contest while laughing so hard we cried.
We went on nature walks.
We watched a fantastic documentary made by a talented soul.
We made vision boards and took time to silently admire each others dreams for the future.
We had a talent show and again laughed so hard our jaws hurt.
We fed our bodies and souls with nutrient rich, blessed food.
We stayed up late and giggled, and cried and hugged each other and shared stories and compared boob surgeries and...and...and...
A young man at the retreat who was quite quiet most of the weekend said at the closing circle, something that sung in my ear.
He said " I feel like I have waited my whole life to experience something like this."
He wasn't speaking about cancer, he meant to experience people letting their guards down and just loving each other and accepting each other without judgement. Truly forming bonds, real, raw relationships.
He was right.
I am so grateful that I was able to experience this.
I am forever changed.
I walk away with a clear understanding on how fragile life is, but how beautiful death can be, if you just live richly while you are here.
I walk away with 32 new friends and the ENORMOUS desire to help.
To help YACC fund raise, to help other young adults affected by cancer.
I haven't scratched the surface. I can't explain what happened last weekend so I really shouldn't even try, but I will tell you that...
I am forever changed and,
I filled up to the brim with love.