I had the opportunity to attend the young adult survivor conference at Camp-Mak-A-Dream in Gold Creek, Montana. The name is deceptive because anything associated with the word “Camp” for me conjures up images of singing kumbaya, roasting marshmallows, and eating hotdogs. I didn’t know what I needed to bring with me to a “camp” for young adults. I honestly did not know what to expect there. What I found was something I haven’t experienced since I was diagnosed with a brain tumor… people like me to talk to face-to-face that understood first-hand how much it SUCKS being a young survivor. It was the first time I’ve felt comfortable talking about my experiences. I haven’t participated in support groups since I was diagnosed because I thought they weren’t for me. It’s much harder for me to verbalize my thoughts. I’m sure there were people there that felt the same way. We shared laughter, tears, and were able to be ourselves. The conference held different workshops ranging from “Getting and keeping a job after cancer” to “Dealing with Loss”. It was nice because all of us were isolated from everything in Montana and only had each other to hangout with. I felt like I really bonded with people there. It was kinda cool because they flew us in, and nobody knew each other that well, so everyone was “forced” to get to know each other. The highlight for me was climbing “the butte” the last day. The “butte” is this huge hill with a great view of the mountains. It took us a 1/2 hour to climb it. I’m convinced that we couldn’t have done it without each other. Our mantra was “don’t look back till we get to the top.” The climb was really symbolic of how we were there to support each other. Some of us had doubts about getting to the top, but we were there to pull each other up physically or mentally. It could have been really easy to turn around halfway up and be satisfied with the view, but you only get to see one side of the “butte”. The 360 degree view from the top was truely amazing! Although I didn’t know what to bring with me to Montana, I definitely left with more than I brought.
*originally published on May 24, 2009 @ 23:10 www.ericgalvezdpt.com