“Since I was 18, more than half my life, I’ve been dealing with this disease. And I have done it all–the support groups, the therapy, the peer on peer calls, the symposiums and the conferences, the studies and the endless reading of cancer books. So you can understand my skepticism. Please! A healing odyssey?! I know cancer and I was sure this was going to be yet another blah blah blah thing to help me see the light that left me right back where I started — in Cancerville.
And then I was there. At the retreat. Up in the mountains. Purple t-shirt on, colorful beads around my neck, a name tag with butterflies announcing my presence, sitting in a room full of women the life of which I never imagined. In each of them I saw myself. There was no worst story. There was no suffering scale. There was no let’s rehash what we have been through and ooh and aah at each others’ stories.
And I was gobsmacked. Bowled over. Disoriented. Stunned. And so very, very wrong. Incredibly, massively wrong!
This was something new and it was something special. And best of all, it was blowing away the cancer cloud that I had lived under for so long.
Slowly but surely, I started to feel the stirring of elation, of life, of laughter, of joy, of hope and yes, the release of fear and pain and sorrow. Way to turn my cancer world upside down! Way to shut up the smartass cancer chick who thinks she has it all figured out!
In the past two weeks since my return, I have struggled to put into words what happened up there on that mountain in those three days. I always come up short. My friends and family ask and I tell them small snippets but I have let go of trying to make anyone understand what those three days have meant to me and have done to me. To you all I can say that I suspect those 3 days quite literally saved my life.
I wanted to reach out and thank all of you. It’s not that anyone did anything extraordinary, it’s that we all did something extraordinary together. I know it was different for all of us and still a little bit the same. I know that healing is something that is deeply personal and different for all, but still for all of us, a little bit the same. Thank you for ending my isolation, for bringing me back to a community and for letting that “little bit the same” in all of us be such an unbelievably powerful force and incredible influence. Thank you most of all for letting me be completely myself, for being yourselves and for teaching me, by example, that there is a tremendous bravery in being present in every moment of your life. And for those three days, I thank you for being present in my life. I am beyond grateful for this new community of friends that I now have. You are not my cancer friends, you are simply my friends and I am a lucky girl to have you all in my life.