Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sneak a Peek: FDX Main Salmon River Trip

Here is a sneak peak of my trip with First Descents (FD) on the Main Salmon River in Idaho recently! I journal-ed everyday so I will be posting my entries here in the blog, but first I wanted to give a quick overview. Let me just say that it was AH-MAZING! What a wonderful refreshing week with friends. It was so much more than I ever expected. I went in with some minor expectations... I had been to two other FD kayak camps so I kind of expected this to be a similar experience just without the daily drive to the river and a nice house to come back to at night. But I was thrilled to be sleeping on beaches and going to sleep to the sound of the river. That week was all that I expected and also nothing at all that I expected. It was wonderful.
(The view from my tent the first morning I woke up)

(Our gear and a view of one the river from one of our beaches)

I expected it to be another week of "cancer camp", a time for us all to sit down and tell each other about our journeys and talk about our cancer. That was one expectation that wasn't realized. I was shocked (in a good way) to find the trip different from the beginning. Cancer was hardly mentioned; it became a mere background note, the unsaid reason why we were all together. Rather, we were just a group of friends going on an awesome kayaking trip.  This might sound weird, but it was as if we had grown up. I'd venture to say that we were all more emotionally mature than we were when we signed up for that first FD camp. At least I know that to be true for me. This year I no longer felt the need to discuss my cancer. If it came up, sure, that was fine. But there was no emotional longing to express what I had been through or receive validation that my experience was normal, that I was normal. I felt whole again. At least whole enough to be myself and focus on nothing more than enjoying the week and making new friends. And that is exactly what I did.

(Three best friends on costume night!)

(Me with Mango and Hoser... two of our awesome kayak guides!)

But the week wasn't all fun and relaxation... there were definitely challenges. I'll discuss more when I share my journal articles, but basically there were several days when the rapids caught me by surprise, scared me, and made me question my abilities. There were times that my response to those challenges was less than what I wish it had been, and other days when I surprised myself. But in the end, challenges and all, it was an amazing, epic, unforgettable trip. I took away so much from it and now that I'm home I feel more whole, more together, and... happier. I'm always so grateful to FD for what they give me every year and this time is no different. It is truly because of FD that I now have a fulfilling life post cancer. Thank you will never be enough.

(Me kayaking on the Salmon in Idaho)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Is My Cancer Different?

I just love finding new cancer organizations to plug into. Is My Cancer Different? is a unique organization because it exists to show people their treatment options and help them learn about targeted and individualized therapy for their cancer. No two cancers are the same. In my case, with colon cancer, no two colon cancers are the same. Molecular testing of tumors is beginning to offer amazing new options for treatment instead of blanket chemo and radiation treatments. For example... did you know that colon cancer in patients that also have Lynch Syndrome responds differently to chemo than sporadic colon cancers? The normal chemo (5-FU) is not considered to be the best treatment for Lynch colon cancers, but without molecular testing there can't be that individualized treatment.

This is why Is My Cancer Different? is needed. It is a place you can go to learn what individualized or targeted actually means, what questions to ask your doctor, and find info about clinical trials. Plug into this resource, share it with your friends and family... you never know when someone might need this information.
"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting..... 'WHAT A RIDE!'"