September 2019 – Send It Adventure to Donner Pass and Lake Tahoe
I arrived to the base of the cliff. We spent the morning learning the basics of climbing and taking turns ascending some little slabs. We had now moved to some tougher parts. I watched my friend try this section. We were all nervous. This section was especially steep and difficult. She was not able to complete it. My turn. I was hell bent on getting to the top. The guide showed me some moves and grips that would help. I took a deep breath and started. With encouragement from below I climbed. I used every once of strength and pulled myself up. I did it! At the top I turned around and took in the beautiful views of surrounding lakes and mountains. I was smiling so big and was happy. This is the feeling I had been missing from my life. At the top of that mountain I was free.
Send it has always been there for me during my cancer journey. And now, I am the first recipient of the Vy Nguyen Koller Sponsorship Program sponsored by The Send It Foundation. “The Vy Nguyen Grant is designed to inspire young adult cancer fighters & survivors to activate their dream trips, embrace the challenges and the beauty of the outdoors, push boundaries and live for today.” I never had the chance to meet Vy but from stories I’ve heard she lived life to the fullest, never letting cancer hold her back. Vy climbed many mountains all through treatment. She explained, “Climbing Mt. Shasta inspired me to conquer higher peaks and it has shown me that if I dig deep, I have the strength to overcome some of my most difficult treatments and beat this cancer. I’ve discovered that having a ‘full life’ means following your heart and doing what you love and living each and every day with great passion and purpose.” She has reminded me to set fear aside, set a purpose, and follow my heart.
Send It Foundation has helped me climb mountains, literally and figuratively. They have helped create a support group of young adult cancer survivors and let me know I’m not going through this alone. Especially in 2020, isolation as a survivor is hard. Weekly Zoom meetings and laughter with others going through the same hardships has made it a little easier. This organization’s adventure background understands all that goes into an event like this and are willing to help. Knowing Send It believes I can accomplish this task and providing support through it all gives me the push I need. I am honored to run in Vy’s name.
Another group that has donated to my journey is CAYAC, Clearview Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Program. They are based out of Huntsville, AL. They are my local support group I meet with monthly. Each meeting is a different local event. One month we go bowling, another time we go out for tacos. It’s a time to get together and just have fun. Sometimes we talk about cancer and other times we don’t. It’s important to have local people who understand what you are going through with first hand experience. I am so excited to represent this group on my run and let Alabama know there is support for young survivors here in Huntsville.
Last Saturday another support group showed an amazing community. Barbells for Boobs, hosted their first annual RAD Invitational. At this event, survivors got together via Zoom and did the workout Grace. Alone in my garage, but surrounded by my friends on the computer, I lifted a barbell for the first time since I started this treatment. I struggled and my form was terrible but it felt amazing to hear so many cheering and supporting me from around the country. I was only able to complete 15 reps at 95 pounds but was incredibly proud to have gotten back under a barbell supported by such an amazing community.
These moments and feelings you have when you are at the top of the world stick with you. I remember those who were with me and those who cheered me on. I look back when I am struggling and pull from those reserves. If I can climb a mountain I can certainly walk alone into a scan. If I can lift 95 pounds over my head multiple times I can get out of bed and face the day. If I think I’m all alone I remember the high fives and hugs. I want all of you to know you don’t have to go through this alone. There are so many awesome support groups that don’t just sit around in a circle and cry. The groups I have listed go out and live life. Life is too short to wake up and think about the negative. Get up and remind yourself of all the amazing things you have accomplished and send it!