Where do I begin to describe my magical but real weekend hosted by Send It: throwing myself into a carpool with complete strangers, missing a turn while mountain biking and being separated from the others, or the immortal friendships made because of cancer? Anywhere I suppose – I still have the adrenaline of the weekend pumping in my veins (a month after)!!
Being diagnosed at the age of 23 and undergoing treatment for a year, the energetic, out-going, enthusiastic ‘me’ was completely gone. I was absolutely sure she was gone. After spending a weekend with the Send It staff, participants, and the philanthropy Jamie left behind, I discovered a stepping-stone to finding the old ‘me’. The weekend was scheduled with new but flexible outdoor activities and plenty of down time, both being greatly therapeutic. Each activity brought a unity amongst us that I personally hadn’t found at home or at a hospital: encouragement from peers going through similar situations, trying something new while fighting cancer (the disease at the moment, or life after treatment). Being a germ-a-phobe for more than a year, I felt youthful again falling into dirt, and walking in lake water while taking in the fresh oxygen that even the hospital can’t provide. Hands down my favorite part of the weekend was the enchanting friends I made who enjoy being outside!
As a young adult affected by cancer, I felt isolated, lonely, and defenseless in the darkest time of my life. Yearning to find affection, comfort, and an actual soul who could understand the young adult cancer mentality, I dove into Send It. During the down time and outdoor activities, I had intimate, authentic conversations with the other participants. When a group of people are placed together, the chances of everyone getting along with one another isn’t 100%, however this group defied it. We came from different walks of life, but somehow we could speak of any subject, cancer related or not, safely, respectfully, and without the fear of upsetting anyone; it was genuine. Quickly, I saw that we shared many of the fears, which I had refrained from mentioning to family and friends. I withdrew from medicinal psychological help and support groups. But with the Send It group, I found a unique support, one I doubted existed.
My feelings were justified – that it was okay to feel certain ways, extreme, or pragmatic with cancer life. Hearing everyone’s concerns and thoughts helped me understand myself. Being the youngest of the group, I wasn’t the only one “lost” while coping with remission; it’s at all ages. Many outsiders believe that being in remission, we quickly restore our health. However, the invisible mental rollercoaster is not forgotten. We shared or knew of the mental feelings and the health adversities, so speaking of them was effortless even in vulnerable reflections.
This is a glimpse into how a group of individuals who selflessly gave to enrich this realistic get-away weekend and contribute to my sucky post-treatment life. Ultimately, my goal of trying to find and mesh the original ‘me’ to the new ‘me’ has begun with the gift this weekend gave. The theme of cancer brought unity outdoors amongst the different individuals who were there, staff and participants, but we all learned to “forget everything and ride” so we could SEND IT.
Minal ‘CriMinal’ Patel