Spoiler alert – check out my fundraising page here – support.firstdescents.org/clairej30
During the last year, I’ve been thinking about attending another First Descents trip. What is First Descents? A group dedicated to giving young adults who have been given a cancer diagnosis a shot at reclaiming their lives. Check out their about page and their pretty kick-ass brand video here.
During the First Descents experience, young adult survivors and fighters are empowered through conquering legitimate outdoor challenges to push their limits and face their fears, and by doing so, they are able to regain the confidence and self-efficacy lost to cancer.
My first year off treatment, I was selected to attend an incredible trip rock climbing in Moab. (Read my blog post recap from 2014, or my facebook photo album). What I find amazing, is that the impact of that adventure has changed me in ways I’m still discovering. So many times in the last two years, I’ve leaned on a First Descents experience to drive who I’ve become now. Things like confidence, exploration, and adventure are now ingrained in me as I balance normal life with an extra layer of grief and anxiety.
In November I turn 30. During my diagnosis and treatment I focused on my 30th birthday. Being able to visualize a future just three years a head of me gave me peace and grounding while going through treatment. When my entire life felt like it was put on pause and I was confined to bedrest, I set my hopes on turning 30, anticipating that if I was lucky enough to have three more years, I would have a chance to experience so much life I had taken for granted. Knowing I had this time before me gave me more strength and optimism, and I already was planning a celebration of life with the people who had supported me along this path.
In December, I will also celebrate my three-year cancer-free-iversary. However, the stakes continue to get higher as time increases since my last treatment. It will be three years, but it will only have been three years. Regarding my specific stage of diagnosis:
…some 30% to 40% will recur or develop a second bowel cancer. Most residual disease will manifest itself as recurrence within 3 years, and almost all cases will be diagnosed within 5 years of initial diagnosis.
Help me usher in the start of the year I’ve been looking to since I was 25 and held on to while my life was being ripped apart. This will be a celebration of life, but also a new experience I can lean on as the scans and tests continue for at least the next two years. This is my half-way point to being cancer-free.
The next step in the First Descents path is what is called an FDX Trip – generally an international trip continuing the theme adventure activities. In 2016, the organization took survivors hiking through Thailand and trekking in Africa. I want to do something as equally monumental. To qualify for an FDX trip, I must personally raise at least $2,500 on my fundraising page. 2017 adventures are announced late in 2016, and I want to be prepared to reserve a spot!
From now until my birthday in November I will be working on this goal to kick off my best year yet.
Help me. Donate to my fundraising page here – support.firstdescents.org/clairej30
Donations pay for other young adult cancer survivors to go on their first trip with this group.