The Wolf Pack at First Descents

What a great week! I got back last night from Glacier National Park and I was honestly amazed by the whole experience. The superficial purpose of the week was to teach young survivors how to kayak in white water rapids. What I found was an experience that brought everyone (“campers” and “counselors” alike) together as we prepared for the unpredictable river. It was very symbolic of the struggles one experiences when faced with an intimidating diagnosis. When you look at what is coming up, it looks scary as hell. You got to do it and you need help to get to the other side. The first day, we (the “campers”) were all nervous about turning over in our kayak and being stuck turned upside down under water in the kayak. As the week progressed, our confidence grew with the help of the counselors. Just like our loved ones, they were looking out for us. Their enthusiasm and confidence in us was contagious. For a young adult with an intimidating diagnosis, it is difficult to get that type of response from the medical community because there is still a lack of knowledge on how to treat these diseases with young adult issues.

Unlike a brain tumor or cancer diagnosis, many of us would face a challenge for the first time in the company of others similar to us. We faced the same fear of the river, but this time around we had so many “experts” in our corner. I was amazed by many of the stories I heard… breast cancer, sarcoma, colon cancer, etc… all very different diagnoses, but we all had similar experiences in the fight for our lives. Fighting our fear of the rapids was just another battle we would face but this time we had so many people to lean on. It was very easy to build bonds with everyone because it really was “Us vs the River”. The campers were initially intimidated and the counselors were very enthusiastic about helping us overcome our fears and enjoy the river. By Day 6, we all felt confident in each other, our counselors, but most importantly ourselves. It actually reminded me of a quote I once heard.

The strength of the pack is in the wolf. The strength of the wolf is in the pack.

I look forward to staying in contact with my new friends and taking on any new challenges with them in my corner.

Check out our pictures here

*originally published Jul 12, 2009 @ 16:25 www.ericgalvezdpt.com

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