Wow! I cannot believe it has already been more than a week since we wrapped up Young Adult Cancer Canada’s Survivor Conference 2021: Chill!
As is the case after every YACC event that I attend I am still so full of joy and gratitude for the love of this community I call family. Time and time again, I am honoured to be surrounded by so many of my peers who understand the struggles and celebrations of survivorship, and that is never as apparent as it is when we are all in the same “room.”
Throughout the duration of the conference, we were joined by over 395 participants — 117 of whom were brand new connections! — and I could feel the love from coast to coast! We were blessed to have heard the powerful stories of five community members through the YACCer Spotlight series and to have learned from the wisdom of the facilitators of the twelve unique workshops offered throughout the weekend.
The social committee kept us laughing and having fun while the Yakkity Yak chats and the YACC Web: Chats teams kept us feeling connected and supported by our peers. Of course, I cannot let the incredible effort of all of YACC’s staff and volunteers go unnoticed; the conference went off without a hitch and I know that I am not alone in sharing my deep gratitude for being able to participate in such an amazing event.
To carry forward the connection and collaboration that is so evident in the YACC Survivor Conference events, I asked a few of my peers to share a pearl of wisdom they are bringing forward as they reintegrate into their daily lives post conference. I hope you find as much value in their words as I have!
Nanaimo, BC | Melanoma
“The word of intention that really stuck out to me during the Survivor Conference is ‘authenticity.’ With every presentation and conversation, I was in awe of people’s willingness to share their stories and their hearts. Authenticity was also a topic in a favourite YACCer spotlight, as well as in the session on giving back. My intention for the next year is to show up authentically for myself, and within the cancer community. I would like to hold on to authenticity as I begin to share my story within the YACC community. To me this means checking in with my heart and being honest and accepting about where I am at in my growth and healing and allowing myself to be truly seen.”
Toronto, ON | Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
“The pearl of wisdom I am taking forth with me after this year’s conference is that it is not easy to cultivate gratitude, but when you do find a moment of happiness, hold on to it as long as you can. I found this pearl during the evening chat on gratitude. Going forward, on the days where I am in a low place mentally, I know that I can hang on to the small wins and positive affirmations I have lived through to set the tone for a great day. I realize now that there will always be something to smile about.”
Edmonton, AB | Breast cancer
“During Denis’s breakout session ‘Who Are You? An exploration of our Identities,’ we explored our identities through cancer by looking at the turning points in our lives and comparing how we described ourselves before and after my cancer diagnosis. Through this activity I found that I have become a more adapted version of myself. I plan to hold on to this idea by reflecting weekly on how I describe myself through my cancer experience.”
Winnipeg, MB | Invasive ductal carcinoma
“The pearl of wisdom that stood out to me the most through the Survivor Conference is that I have learned so much about myself and acceptance for the struggles that have brought me to this point. I came to this pearl through two different workshops: Traditional Indigenous Teachings and Healings; and Authentic, Embodied, Mindful You — Yoga. I would like to continue to learn and practice more mindful yoga and do more research and sign up for workshops on traditional Indigenous teachings and healings provided by Tribal Trade. This little sneak peek into what traditional teachings opened my soul and spirit to learning more about myself and how the three-part framework using the teachings and personal development builds transformative levels of resiliency. The medicine wheel and how it connects made a lot of sense to me and I am looking forward to learning more!”
Markham, ON | Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
“I am leaving the Survivor Conference with a pearl of wisdom that I found in the ‘Observe not Obsess: Mindfully Exploring your Emotions’ breakout room. The phrase that stood out to me most was ‘nudge your inner judge!’ I look forward to feeling my feelings while dropping the judgment of myself.”
Red Deer, AB | Acute myeloid leukemia
“Pearl of wisdom gained through the conference: Regardless of the situation we are in, there are always silver linings to be found if we are willing to look for them. This came out of our Saturday YACC Web: Chat on gratitude. How am I holding on to this? I am working on building a habit of starting my day with a prayer of gratitude and writing about the things I am thankful for. There is much we cannot control, but we can control how we choose to respond. And attitude is everything.”
Cambridge, ON | Myxoid liposarcoma
“My biggest takeaway from the conference is that I am not alone and to reach out as so many people are there for me. I learned this across many of the discussions through the weekend and through the messages I received following the sharing of my YACCer spotlight. YACC does have my back!”
Cambridge, ON | Supporter
“Through connecting with others and the session on ‘Mindfully Exploring Emotions,’ I learned that I need to take care of myself so that I can be there when the people I support need me. I plan to carry this idea forward by sharing this message with others along the way and by being open and honest about what I need with the person I am supporting and setting boundaries with what I can and cannot do.”
Toronto ON | B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
“The pearl of wisdom that I am taking away from the conference is that despite the different struggles we may have or the various stages of struggle we are in, it does not matter because what we do have in common is more powerful. I learned this by having the opportunity to host virtual YACC Web: Chats with different audiences within the YACC community.
“This was my first big event with YACC and a big stretch from the small bubble I was in when I first found the organization. Through the Survivor Conference I have met so many more people, expanded my perspective, and learned about so many incredible resources available to me.
“I could not have found this pearl at a better time because I have been dealing with feelings of survivor’s guilt recently. Fortunately, my cancer was caught early, my treatment was minimal, and I responded to it well. I am aware that others in the cancer community are not as lucky and this was difficult for me to accept. Why did I get off easier than they did? It was difficult for me to relate to others in the cancer community because of this belief that I was carrying with me. But, having the opportunity in the virtual chats last weekend to come together and share our stories, I realized that it does not matter what you have or have not been through, what matters is having people on your side who get it, know your struggle no matter how small and still have your back regardless.
“Thank you to all my new YACC friends for helping me get to this realization. You mean the world to me!”
Want to stay connected? Check out the amazing ways you can stay hooked up to your YACC friends and family across the country:
Yakkity Yak: Open to members of the private alumni Facebook group