At our monthly team meetings, one of our crew members discusses some of our five values: strength, courage, commitment, heart, and spark. This is Angie’s reflection from this month’s meeting.
By Angie Barrington
Before Retreat Yourself Adventure 2019, my latest “retreat” was Retreat Yourself East 2011 (also held in Rocky Harbour, NL). Nevertheless, I know Young Adult Cancer Canada’s (YACC) Retreat Yourself programs work. I have seen the evaluation data and heard the reviews on how incredibly life-changing they can be, often being the first point of contact many of our participants have with other young adults affected by cancer. Our programs (and our program director) have a fantastic reputation, and it was no surprise that this sought-after experience filled up literally overnight.
But that’s because of the courage of our community members.
Think of the worst thing that’s ever happened to you or a loved one. Now think about leaving your comfort zone to spend five days on the lesser populated coast of a province you probably haven’t been to before, talking about it with 13 people you probably haven’t met. You don’t know where you’ll be staying, what amenities will be available, or what the weather will be (forecasts are only a suggestion here). Would you do it? With one email and a Facebook post, we received enough applications to fill this event four times over.
I was blown away by the courage I saw before we even made it to the hotel. A space opened up 12 hours before we were off to Deer Lake, and within five hours, I was simultaneously booking a flight and checking in one last courageous YACCer. “What do I need and where are we going?” “Hiking boots and gym clothes, and we’ll take care of the rest.” And she was in. Before I knew it, I had six other people loaded in a rental car for the hour-long drive to our hotel. We had only exchanged a few emails, and here they were, unaware of what kind of driver I was or where they were going. No big deal.
There were countless examples of courage from there. They tackled unknown hiking trails chosen specifically for their difficulty levels, facing any fears they had about what their bodies could do after cancer. They initiated difficult conversations. They stared fear in the face while zip lining at Marble Mountain, allowing themselves to trust other people to get them where they needed to go in one hell of a metaphorical moment. They opened up during our recaps each night, showing whatever emotions they were feeling, even when they weren’t sure where they were coming from.
I knew this program worked and I knew our YACCers are badass, but I’m still working on finding the words to properly describe what I saw over those five days. Seeing it all firsthand added fuel to my professional fire, and I (selfishly) look forward to experiencing it all again.