Monday, June 18, 2012

First Descents Kayaking: Pics

Photos courtesy of Postal, a fellow First Descents camper and now life-long friend of mine.

View of the Great Smoky Mountains from the Watershed Cabins
Day 1 - I'm just beginning to channel the Shark Bait in me.
The Commons at the Watershed Cabins,
which contained a firepit where we met each night
to discuss the day and to translate our river experience
 into observations about our "normal" lives

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

 And a special thank you to the two men in my life, who did an amazing job of taking care of their daughters throughout the challenges of the past year. Cancer tried to destroy us, but Ryan and my dad were too tough for that. Through their love and dedication, they strengthened the bonds in our family.

Ryan & Katelyn at The Don Cesar, April 2012

Shelley, Katelyn, & Dad/Papa, July 4 2011

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First Descents Kayaking: Day 3

This evening marks the end of my third full day of FD1 Kayaking camp. I am loving it. Today, we had a blast whitewater rafting. Two days ago, during the skill-building on the lake, we began to see just how powerful a metaphor kayaking is for life and our cancer journeys. Yesterday, however, was not a good day for me. But because of the powerful opportunity for self-exploration and bonding that First Descents provides, in retrospect, Day 2 was the best day so far.
Day 2 was our first day on moving water. A class I river, the objective was to learn to navigate with the current and minor obstructions. Despite my great interest in mastering these techniques, I could not concentrate on Big Papa’s lesson. I felt fatigued, nauseated, and had a severe headache, likely caused from a combination of dehydration, changes in my diet, and chemo lingering in my body from the round I’d concluded fifteen days earlier. I was so out of it that I couldn’t follow his instructions and had trouble staying with the group.
When we pulled up on the shore for lunch, I walked right past the cooler and lay down in the back of one of the vans. Number Two, a staff member, checked on me. So did Mack, Brave Chicken, Junior High, and several of the other campers. Already we are a family. Ha-Chee joined me in the van. She did not feel well either, but her pain more easily could be explained. She is on a daily oral chemo regimen. Her body is working hard to fight the cancer, and her mind is working even harder to maintain her inspiring courage, grace, and wit.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Descents Trip - T Minus One Day

This entry is also being posted on the First Descents Blog.

Tomorrow morning, I leave for Bryson City, North Carolina, for a week of whitewater kayaking and bonding with a dozen other young adult cancer survivors.

I feel both over-prepared and completely underprepared. I've packed: 13 pairs of socks; three tubes of sunscreen; not only mosquito repellent, but AfterBite as well; Neosporin, just in case my head and a sharp rock meet in the river. I almost bought a watch with a compass, to guide me if I get lost in the mountains, but then I realized that knowing which way is north isn't the same as knowing which way to walk.

The First Descents team understands that we survivors tend to travel with more anxieties than the average person. Their objective for the program, which has become my personal goal for the trip, is to "forget" to put some of my anxieties back in my suitcase when I pack before heading home.

In the spirit of camaraderie, everyone who attends an FD camp is referred to by nickname instead of their real name. I either need to show up with a name, or I'll be given one. I've never had a nickname; I've always taken myself way too seriously for that. But showing up without one is yet another risk: I could wind up being called Fluffy.

How does one come up with a nickname for herself?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Review: Comeback Love

In Peter Golden's "Comeback Love," Gordon Meyers seeks out "the one that got away" 40 years earlier, Glenna Rising. Gordon, an aspiring writer, and Glenna, a sexy med student had a passionate love affair in New York City in the 1960s, against the backdrop of the Vietnam draft, women's rights, the pro-abortion movement, and the hippie culture. Since Glenna broke Gordon's heart, much has changed in both their lives. Gordon wonders if one thing has stayed the same-- the passionate way they felt about each other.