So the last couple of weeks have really flown by. We celebrated Kaden's 7th birthday with a day full of fun. He had a birthday party with lots of his friends all dressed up in costumes, playing games and eating lots of treats. He had a great time. Then we had the family over for supper and cake. It was a very full and very fun day!! I also finished up work and have been off for the past two weeks. I did feel very sad closing my office door at the end of the day and saying goodbye to everyone there. Everyone has been so great with my return to work I felt like it was way too soon for me to be leaving again.
I was so happy to have the conference to look forward to so that I wasn't dwelling on the rest. We had an absolutely amazing time in Ottawa! My sisters and I were all able to attend the Young Adult Cancer Canada conference this time - Christine as a facilitator, Me as a Survivor and Laura as my Supporter. This was Laura's first experience with YACC and it was a very special one for sure. Laura and I spent our first day walking around Ottawa in the rain (with umbrellas of course) and it was absolutely beautiful. We stopped in at the Art Gallery and spent a few hours in this calm, peaceful place taking it all in. Besides getting to spend this time with my sisters, I so needed to reconnect with some of my cancer buddies. It's such a different world with us in a room together. Nothing like cutting right to the chase. People are so open and ready to share that there is no small talk. What kind of cancer do you have? What has your treatment been like and by the end of the conversation you are talking about relationships, fears, futures, bowel habits... It is pretty amazing how open cancer makes people. I love getting to know people at this level. It is so real.
I took away alot from this conference: a feeling of community, hope, strength, faith, knowledge and motivation. I was again reminded that 1% is not 0%. Anything is possible and no one knows what the future holds. I also realized how much guilt and blame that I was carrying with my cancer diagnosis. Apparently, there is nothing that I could have done in my short 36 years on this earth that could have caused myself to get cancer. The first time I heard this I said it over and over again in my head and thought that for sure he must be wrong but then when I really thought about it I realized that maybe it was true. I didn't even realize that I blamed myself for this happening. The questions that I get asked from my health care providers like; Do you spend alot of time in the sun? Have you used a tanning bed? Do you wear sunscreen? Then when my cancer spread to my lungs the question always asked; Do you smoke or have you ever smoked? All of these questions made a huge impact on me and implied to me that they thought that there was obviously something that I had done to cause this disease to pick on me. The realization that there really was nothing horrible that I had done to cause this to happen felt like a huge burden lifted from me. It is NOT my fault. Wow! I am also very motivated once again to help make my quality of life the best that it can be by taking great care of myself and my body.
The highlights for me from the conference were hearing Geoff's story. It was so inspiring but also full of humour and lots of lessons to be learned. Our speakers were full of knowledge about brain fog, exercise and yoga. I spent some time with some really amazing people who taught me so much about living life and inspired me to live and be well. Reconnecting with people I either have never met before or hadn't seen in a year or more was awesome! Hearing the stories and how people cope with their cancer and find healing. (Even if the healing does not always come physically) Hearing that my cancer had returned again this time was heartbreaking. I have found it very difficult to wrap my head around. And hearing out loud that my cancer will most likely keep coming back again and again was not easy. I realized being away at this conference that this was all so hard to hear that I wasn't really feeling it. I had become numb, not able to feel what all of this meant to me. The problem with this is that you can not feel any of the wonderful, amazing feelings either. Being at this conference really awakened all of my feeling (both good and bad) and let me finally let go of some of the crap. I feel so much more whole now and alive.
I missed Jeff and the kids like crazy while I was gone but I really think that it did me a lot of good to give myself this time away. As the weekend came to a close I couldn't help but start thinking about surgery coming up and starting to dread this but I focused more on getting back home and seeing Jeff and the boys. They are what keep me going and motivate me to live my best. I would do anything for my family. I love them so much.. I just wish that I could make all this cancer crap disappear and all of the pain and sadness that comes along with it.
Thank you YACC family for an amazing conference full of everything that I needed - energy, laughter, motivation, understanding, love and hope....