A few months ago, Dr Charley from Cancer Tamer (cancertamer.org) contacted me at Survivingbreastcancer.org about teaming up and participating in a rafting trip scheduled for August, to celebrate life. Little did I know that a day on the river would change my life!
Invitations went out to breast cancer survivors, thrivers, caregivers and advocates. The rafting trip served as a bucket list item for many participants, regardless of age.
The itinerary read:
Meet at location at 10am
Rafting from 11-4 (lunch included)
Simple. Straight forward. It sounded good. My caregiver, William, and I signed up. We made the 5-hour drive from Boston to central Pennsylvania and within minutes of being ensconced in the mountains, we heard the rippling sounds of water rushing by. After an introductory session we began buckling up our safety vests and our adventure began!
25 inexperienced thrivers and caregivers (though William would argue he is experienced) jumped into the rafts, paddles at the ready, final instructions received. We entered the water, and the current moved us quickly downstream. The river carried us away from our launch site and there was no turning back!
Within minutes of starting our rafting journey we hit our first section of rapids. Our guides say it was a class two, but by the size of the waves splashing directly onto me, it felt like much more!
The air was warm, the water refreshing, and women between the ages of 30 and 80 were splashing one another, smiling, and giggling like we were all 13 years old again and on a summer camp adventure!
The beauty of the trip was the absolute judgment free environment. Though we all came from different walks of life, breast cancer unified us, and we established a strong bond that day on the river.
The trees lining the riverbed provided fresh air for us to breathe in hope; the clouds above provided shade and coverage from a hot sun and protected us along our journey. The river was high from several weeks of rain, and cradled us as we cascaded over the ebbs and flows of the Lehigh river. The River derives it’s name from an old Lenape descriptive and means “where the forks are”. As you navigate this beautiful river you get to choose one fork or another for safe passage.
As breast cancer survivors and thrivers we too get to choose from various “forks” in our medical care, nutrition options and exercise regimentations. I know how strong rivers and currents can be, the power of water, waves and rapids at the beck-and-call of mother-nature.
And there we were, just as powerful as the water that carried us, fierce, strong, and courageous women who are not letting treatment nor a first or a second diagnosis of cancer defeat us.
What stood out was the vibrant community forming; the immediate friendships that developed and the camaraderie and spirit these beautiful women showed.
The power on the water that day was magical – breast cancer thrivers enveloped by mother-nature - two force that are undefeatable.
Want to join us at our next event, check out our upcoming events for breast cancer awareness month! Hope to see you there!
--The SBC Team