This past weekend 550 young adult cancer survivors, supporters, caregivers and loved ones gathered in Las Vegas to listen, learn, support, and grow.
Our hope was coupled with fear.
Our strength was coupled with fragility.
Our honesty was coupled with insecurity.
While cancer may have been the reason we were brought together, she was also responsible for tearing us apart.
Are you in treatment?
Are you in remission?
Have you had recurrence?
Are you cured?
We were labeling, categorizing, and inevitably separating each other into manageable groups.
And as we separated this disease into her many shades of grey, it became apparent that it was the desire to make change, the desire to live in spite of cancer that united us, that guided us, and instilled a sense of community and hope amongst a sea of strangers.
As we were repeatedly stripped down to our most vulnerable selves, we confronted our darkest fears, and tiptoed into our hopes and dreams.
The same disease that left my body after two rounds of chemotherapy, took a brother at the age of 34, and a daughter at the age of 26.
The same disease that brought me strength and clarity, caused others repeated pain, devastation and hardship.
It was one conference but not one voice.
It was one disease but not one outcome.
It was one journey but not one story.
As a young adult cancer survivor it is my hope that we continue to share our stories, continue to share our voice, and continue to give a face to cancer.
Through sharing comes strength, through sharing comes bravery, through sharing comes community, and through sharing comes hope.
I hope you will join me.