~Kendra, 13 years old, Leukemia Cancer Survivor~
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be a part of River Discovery’s first youth survivor and co-survivor 1 day rafting trip. It was a beautiful day and the participants were great. I was assigned to Kendra’s crew and I felt right at home. Her family consisted of her mom, a younger sister, and two older brothers and one thing was clear very early on- Kendra has an incredible support system at home. Unless you’ve had a major illness strike your family, it may be hard for you to relate, but life as you know it comes to a screeching halt. One thing many crave is a sense of normalcy. Their old normal. Before cancer normal. Her family seemed to have that down when an older brother pretended to push her in just to get her to laugh. Watching them with her (one 22 and the other 17) was incredible. At one point she skinned her knee and they were quick to make sure she had the proper medical attention she needed. You could feel the love and respect they all had for each other and watching it at work really warmed my heart. Her little sister was a spit fire and I felt like I was looking at what my daughter will be like in a few years. She was fearless and had a huge sense for adventure. She even “rode the bull” (riding the raft with your feet hanging over the front and holding on to nothing more than a rope) through almost all of the class 3 rapids we encountered. Then there’s her mom, oh my gosh her mom. What an incredible woman she is. From spending DAYS in the hospital by her little girls side to holding down fort at home. When she looked at her daughter you could see a whole story playing behind her eyes. Fear, anguish, hurt, but above anything else – LOVE. So much love. Watching this mom watch her little girl smile and laugh and to get to just be 13 was so beautiful. I have no doubt that yesterday will forever be a day that all of us can look back at and smile. A day out of the hospital, a break from cancer, a day to LIVE.
For more information on River Discovery, please go to http://www.riverdiscovery.org.