As a 22-year old lymphoma survivor merely five months out of intensive chemotherapy treatment, I often feel like I’m still slowly sifting through the debris of the cancer-sized “tornado” that up-ended and blew through my life last year. At times, I still find myself confused as to how to navigate the rocky path of moving forward post-cancer diagnosis with the baggage – physical, mental, and emotional – that it has left me with.
From the first day of the Send It trip to the last, I found the healing comfort of human connection, adventure, and support. Despite being different ages and coming from different walks of life, our group quickly came to learn each other’s stories through spending time together on the snowy peaks, in the hot tub, around the flickering fireplace, and over delicious family-style meals.
With our shared experience of sickness, there was no need to explain the grief of feeling our bodies grow weak from cycles of intense treatment, the sadness of watching our peers build careers while being confined to an infusion center, or the nerve-wracking hours of restlessness and anxiety when waiting for a scan to come back. Rather than receiving the usual sympathetic looks when sharing our stories of cancer trauma, we were met with empathetic nods from peers who had walked through similar seasons of treatments, side effects, and heartache. It’s hard to put into words the deep comfort of knowing your feelings and experiences are truly understood by others because they’ve been there too.
Perhaps the most impactful takeaway for me was the perspective that I gained from my fellow peers. Some, who were now over ten years from their diagnosis date, reminded me that there was a path forward after cancer, giving me hope that I will reach years and decades of survivorship one day. Seeing others, regardless of where they were in their cancer journey, shredding the slopes at Palisades with speed, freedom, excitement, and pure joy on their faces showed me that there is adventure and beauty in life even despite terrible sorrow and pain. Learning to snowboard for the very first time in fresh powder reminded me that my body is physically strong and capable of trying new things – a viewpoint that I had lost during treatment, but saw myself rediscovering each time I strapped into my snowboard bindings.
Although it’s hard to put into words exactly what the Send It trip meant to me, it’s easy to express my gratitude for this organization and their mission because these experiences truly make a real impact.
To those of you who support the Send It Foundation, thank you so much for being a proponent of healing by allowing people like me to embark on trips that offer adventure, camaraderie, and hope.