A few weeks ago I received an email from the Young Adult Survivor group I belong to about the cycling retreat in Stratton. I immediately signed up because, well, what the heck it's a free retreat in VT and it's cycling with other survivors. A perfect mini Tour de Pink. I had no idea how much it would challenge me, but also prove to me the strength I possess. It now seems that riding 200 miles at the end of September is a highly achievable goal.
AKP Foundation, which stands for Always Keep Pedaling, is an organization started by a young survivor in Manchester, VT after he lost his leg to cancer. Jon Wilson's mission is to provide young adult cancer survivors in financial need with a means to use sports to "energize a comeback from cancer." They hold 2 retreats a year, a cycling retreat in the summer and a ski retreat in the winter. They also provide grants throughout the year to survivors for individualized adventures or equipment.
Not only was the retreat energizing, challenging and just plain amazing, I was completely taken aback by the love and support that surrounded the foundation. His family provided delicious homemade meals and made us feel like we were part of their family. His friends volunteered their time and energy to put the retreat together and to ride with us everyday, we stayed in a Pent House suite in Stowe which I was told was donated and Vermont Bicycle Tours provided us with an amazing tour leader, bikes, van and support. I felt honored to be the recipient of such generosity and compassion.
Life since my last radiation treatment hasn't been care free and liberating like I had imagined while going through treatment. I'm starting to realize the most difficult part of this entire journey is just beginning. I thought that once I finished I would feel this incredible sense of relief, a sense of accomplishment for surviving cancer. I thought I would now be moving on and planning the new chapter in my life. I now know a new chapter means dealing with a the emotional and psychological effects of cancer. Now that the dust has settled from the physical battle I now find myself fearing my future, wondering when I'll be confronted with cancer again and a sense of urgency to do everything I ever wanted to do before it comes back. I was able to talk to some of the other survivors at the retreat about this, and they all have gone or are going through this. They told me that I am just beginning to discover how this disease has forever changed my life. Cancer will be a part of my daily life. I will think about it everyday, as time goes by it'll be different, but it will always be there. I have some tough decisions to make about my future, which may come sooner than later. For now, I am trying to heal myself physically and understand everything that is now bubbling to the surface.
|On the retreat, right after we climbed a small mountain.|