In Zen And The Art Of Motorcyle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig talks about the relationship between “the church” and “the location.” He said, “The citizens who build a church and pay for it probably have in mind that they’re doing this for the community.” But what happens when there’s a threat to the routine and people can’t pray in that church? The “location” the citizens could see and feel isn’t as important as the mission.
These ideas feel particularly poignant right now as we remodel our four-day face-to-face programs to adhere to social distancing guidelines, inspire and engage donors, and serve our community.
To some, it might seem that Young Adult Cancer Canada’s (YACC) main “product” is our face-to-face programming. It’s during these four-day events that bonds are formed, secrets are shared over late nights, and lives are visibly changed. But these experiences are all really tools in our kit, delivering our mission to support young adults living with, through, and beyond cancer. To be the connection to peers, bridge out of isolation, and source of inspiration. Every cancer, every stage, YACC’s got your back.
Executive director Geoff Eaton has been known to repeat the phrase “the only constant in life is change.” YACC didn’t always look like the organization you see today — it wasn’t even called YACC for the first 10 years! So, in the face of these current threats, YACC’s leadership is focused on serving the mission.
While we’ve all been finding ways to bring activities to our screens — work, school, fitness classes, parties — it’s not that unusual to bring YACC back there. Our community of thousands of young adults dealing with cancer from coast to coast actually started online with an email list to people who were interested in staying up to date with Geoff’s cancer story. Our website then became an early hub for national connections and sharing stories. Right now, dozens of private Facebook groups offer daily contact with a community that truly understands.
However, this doesn’t mean we aren’t mourning the events we’ve had to reschedule or cancel for this year. As we’ve all learned over the last couple of months, it’s not always the same to just move things online. Our face-to-face Survivor Conference has been tentatively moved to October, Retreat Yourself Adventure has been cancelled for this year, and we’re waiting on guidelines and recommendations to determine a course of action for the fall.
While we wait to return to some of our favourite pieces and familiar setups, we’ll continue to innovate. We are very fortunate to have some incredible partners who are helping us navigate this uncertainty as we wait to see how the world looks post-quarantine. Next week, we’ll hold our first virtual conference, featuring workshops to help YACCers overcome widespread challenges like sex, stress, and finances. We’ll offer opportunities to chat and have fun. We will support, connect, and inspire because even though it’s not how we did it last year, every cancer, every stage, we’ve got your back.
Interested in Survivor Conference 2020: Virtual? Learn more here.