Sunday, February 10, 2008
"Paddle To A Cure"
Well sometimes because I enjoy paddling so much I feel I should be doing something else with it. Sharing it with others in different ways. In August of 2001 there was an expedition to be held by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation of Ontario in British Columbia. It was called Journeys of Hope. The goal was to raise $500,000.00. There was a total of 7 journeys 6 on the Great LAkes and Georgian Bay and 1 in British Columbia. Working with breast cancer patients most of my life I thought this would be an opportunity for a couple of women I knew that were in a local pallitive care support group to try kayaking and further their support with other women across the country. Only ten participants were selected to be in each group after submission of an essay as to why you wanted to participate. You had to raise at least $2500.00 once selected. I approached the two ladies I knew and asked them if they would be interested.They thought about it for a week as neither had kayaked before, I told them I would teach them before the trip, they agreed. They later confessed to me that it was one of the most amazing experiences of their life. Of course both were selected to go and they suggested that I submit my name, something I had not thought of until then, I did, we wrote our letters and were all selected to participate. We raised our money, the ladies took their lessons gallantly, one was still very sick, and we prepared ourselves for a week long paddle in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia.
There is so much to tell of this trip the bravery (one of the ladies I had taught was still injecting experimental drugs for her cancer during the trip), comradery, understanding, unselfishness, compassion, insight, friendships and I could go on. My goal was to understand how women dealt with their cancer on a daily basis and thru our evening healing rings where we all held hands during a setting sun we connected in caring,healing circle of hope and I took home more of an experience than I could ever have envisioned possible. The brave paddlers above (I exclude myself here) are the epitomy of strength under circumstances I hope you may never find yourself, and that is to be affected with any cancer. The paddle was a mere detraction, but a needed one, from the more pronounced demands of their daily routine back home. Not all had breast cancer, it wasn't a requirement, you had to be touched by it in some way to participate. I heard all their stories and shared tears of hope and of joy with these wonderful people and without them as it sometimes turned out. I was touched I must say and I have looked upon every cancer patient since in a new light of understanding and compassion that far exceeds what would have been possible without this new private and very personal experience. The lady that was part of the Fort St. John group that I was from, passed away three months after the trip. When she came to me for bone scans she always remarked how happy she was to have participated and so was I.