It’s funny – I always imagined that my 10-year cancerversary would have been a bigger cause for celebration than it actually turned out to be. Early that morning, I kissed my husband goodbye for the week, made my way to the airport, and joined The Colon Club’s team for colon camp. It wasn’t until we were talking about the birthdays we would be celebrating together that I remembered that it was my 10-year cancerversary. And so it came and went, but it does not diminish how grateful I am to still be here happy and healthy, living and loving life.
The Colon Club‘s “Colon Camp” is where survivors are brought together to connect with each other in profound ways that cannot be put down on page. This year, we added caregivers for the 2018 magazine which gave yet another layer of depth, perspective and understanding. If you want to read what Colon Camp is like, one of the featured caregivers wrote a beautiful blog post sharing her experience.
My first experience with Colon Camp was two years ago as a “camper.” I gained 11 new brothers and sisters in blue and came back…different. I didn’t realize how Colon Camp had changed me at the time, but Eddie recognized it immediately. I have continued to change and grow as an advocate in the last couple of years. Sadly one of our brothers, Colin Hackett, gained his wings this past November. He was 5 days shy of his 36th birthday. To say that he was an inspiration to those who knew him would be a tremendous understatement. Colin exuded a joy that could not be contained. His smile was like a beacon of light that drew people to love and happiness, even on their darkest days.
During one of our staff meetings following the departure of our campers, I was asked what the most meaningful moment of the week was for me. I gave a response, but I felt like it answered a different question. After a very intense evening where both campers and staff shared our stories, Trish Lannon (The Colon Club’s Interim President) asked everyone to think about where we were in our journeys and to consider what we were ready to let go. This could be anything, cancer related or not. We then took a trip down to the lake and lit lanterns, releasing the lanterns and whatever it was in our hearts we were letting go. As we kneeled on the dock, my colon sister, Lauren, and I spoke Colin’s name. I let go of all the pain and hurt that Colin suffered, but I kept the strength that he showed us. I let go of no longer being able to send him a message, but I kept the memories of how hard he made us all laugh. It took a week of reflection, but I found the answer for my most meaningful moment of colon camp in the instant that my lantern broke the surface of the lake.