Because it’s all in our heads (and hearts)
By Ryan Blenkiron
To me, it was mystifyingly delightful what YACC has been doing for us young adults living with or beyond a cancer diagnosis. Before COVID-19 struck, we had a coveted private Facebook group or two, but going to in-person events was where you “drank the YACC Kool-Aid” and left with an inner peace and growth of which you didn’t think you were capable.
Like most organizations suddenly faced with a pandemic, YACC went virtual in the spring. At first, we dipped a toe into the digital ocean with weekly Quarantine with Karine sessions. I attended several of them, and each time I left feeling empowered by the topic discussion and the expert Karine brought on.
Next, as the annual Survivor Conference which usually hosts 100+ YACCers (veterans and newcomers alike) became unrealistic, a virtual Survivor Conference was pulled together. For an amazing weekend in May, over 320 survivors from all over the globe gathered in Zoom rooms to learn from experts in the field and listen to fellow YACCer stories. May was busy as YACC Web: Chats hosted by our peers sprouted into the programming, filling out the need for small group support and a casual vignette on cancer-related topics.
It’s been a prolonged “eureka!” for me as I came out of conference weekend as drunk on the YACC Kool-Aid as I had been at my first face-to-face event. The magic is all in our heads (and hearts), and YACC’s magic is giving us the place to connect. While I agree that a hug is healing, simple connection and solidarity will do, and you can do that virtually. I’m a veteran witness to that magic. YACC opened their ears and eyes wider to what we are doing online, and they continue to strive to meet us there.