Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank you to YACC for an amazing conference!

What an amazing time we had at the conference! This was a trip of a lifetime for Jeff and I. I fell in love with the ocean and all of the people in Newfoundland. I loved the fact that they all address eachother with enduring names like love, dear, hon..... Very sweet people. We spent our first day out and about walking around town seeing some sights. The views were fantastic - not at all the surroundings that we are used to. When we got back to the hotel mostly everyone had arrived so we visited and mingled with everyone. It was so nice to get together with those there from the past retreats we had been to and of course we met a whole bunch more amazing people! The facilitators and organizers were awesome and made this experience the best conference ever! It's hard to describe everything that I got out of this weekend but I'll try anyway.

We learned alot about health, nutrition, and fitness from the speakers. Dr. Rob got us all meditating and learning how to deal with our stressors. He talked about whole body and mind healing. He shared with us a very inspirational portion of the book he wrote about Jeff(the amazing guy who started YACC)'s cancer journey. I was almost brought to tears by this. What a story!! Another speaker who I learned a lot from was Chef Jay. He had us eating healthy and blending up a storm. I got a kick out of how addicted to his blender he was. Then when I got home the blender I had ordered was waiting for me. Now I am a blenderholic!! lol It was perfect timing! We learned a lot about using food as medicine. Eat your veggies people!!! Bonnie was our fitness coach and got us all up and moving. I didn't participate too much with the fitness stuff because honestly I just didn't have the energy. Bonnie and I had a great chat though and she inspired me to just do what I can so I will be getting my butt out that door and at least getting a walk in every other day. The walk up Signal Hill showed me how out of shape I am - my chest was burning and I was so out of breathe. We also had a great group chat about sharing our story with others. Mikey explained how important our stories are and that we should be proud of them. Wow! I have always had no problem sharing my story through my blog but have a harder time face to face. I was very touched by all of the stories shared with me over these few days and am amazed again by all of the bravery, courage, love and hope in one room.

The walk up Signal Hill was absolutely beautiful! For some of us reaching the top was a huge accomplishment. It takes alot of strength and determination to push yourself up that hill, especially those who are not well. Wow! I'm getting emotional just thinking about it. We did it!! At the top of the hill we got to take in the gorgeous scenery and then we participated in a small ceremony to say goodbye to our fellow cancer warriors. We each took a handful of sand from a jar, said our goodbyes and watched the sand fly through the air. It was a very peaceful, emotional experience. YACC has had a very tough year full of loss so this was a very important part of the weekend. I dedicated my climb to my cousin Christine who we lost to cancer last year. She showed me how to never lose hope, not to take anything for granted, and she fought the whole time with a beautiful smile on her face. I think of you everyday, Christine.

After this we all needed a beer so off to the pub we went. Some of us got screeched in as honerary Newfoundlanders. That was so much fun to watch. Lots of laughs and I tried some really good beer. Of course just a few sips for me! We went back to the hotel for supper and to watch the best movie that I have ever seen - Wrong Way to Hope. I had seen the movie at the Retreat in Vancouver and when I watched it again it was like seeing it for the first time. Of course I can really relate to the survivors in the movie and found myself many times thinking -Wow, me too! It is a great balance of real emotion and humour. Whether you have cancer or not it is a very inspirational movie. I actually loved it so much that I will be holding a night here in Stonewall where I will be showing it. More details on that to follow!

That brings us to the night before it was time to get back on that plane and fly home. Just when I thought the weekend couldn't get any better we had a great dinner at a pizzaria. After a yummy dinner we headed across to a small theatre to watch a show called Cancer Can't Dance Like This. Dan is one of the most hilarious guys I have ever met. He actually is a cancer survivor and his show is all based on his experiences. I havn't laughed that hard for a very long time! Cancer makes us Gangsta!!!

Well, that is only a bit about our trip - believe it or not. I am very thankful that I was able to experience this and meet so many amazing people! Sharing it with Jeff and my sister was awesome! My heartfelt thank you goes to Karine for being you and all the staff at YACC, Jeff Eaton for using his experience to connect other young adults all over Canada, and all the facilitators for caring enough to get involved. Mikey and Bonnie - you really do Huck it Huge!!! I come away from this conference re-energized, full of hope and heart.

It was really nice to get back to the boys. Jeff and I missed them so much. And they actually missed us too. They were so happy to have us home even though they had a good time with Grandma and Grandpa. We are so very fortunate to have mom and dad so close by and willing to flip their lives upside down for us. Love you guys!

This week I really feel blessed when I look around me. Even though my life is not what I thought it would be right now I wouldn't change a thing. I have learned so many lessons in the past year which have made my life better. One of them being "Dreamings not Enough" - Kaleena Hudon Don't just dream about it, do it!


  1. WOW! What a thoughtful and great post, Natalie! I'm sure that took time and effort to formulate all those great thoughts and to reflect on the conference; I loved reading it and was so glad that you were a part of that weekend. And it reminded me that we were going to connect more personally at the conference about fitness info for you specifically! I'd love to do that via email, and you can connect with me at Hope you're well, enjoying your blender, feeling stress-free (more or less!), and walking when you can. Looking forward to reuniting in person when we can!

  2. Thank you so much for that Natalie. I struggled so much writing a blog about the Conference, reading yours makes it complete!
    Loved spending time with you and Jeff and I am so glad you were both there this year (with you great sister as a bonus:-)).

    Can't wait to do things with the Love's. You guys own your family name so well.
    Thinking of you
    Sending energy

  3. Natalie, this is an awesome post!! Thank you for sharing your experiences, or at least part of them.

    I loved reading your words about now changing a thing... I felt, and feel the same way... while I would have never chosen this path, once on it I would have chosen nothing other than to deal with it face-first.

    so glad you guys made the trek across the country and look forward to when we will meet again!