“You look like you got laid.”
That was my friend’s response when he saw me after I returned from a week out west, canoeing down the Green River and backcountry camping.
I was exhausted and dirty. I was still finding remnants of the red rocks everywhere - in my clothes, in my shoes, in my hair…
But I was calm. I was at peace. Apparently, I was glowing.
For a brief period of time - before life’s stressors and responsibilities crept back in - I felt fulfilled. And more importantly, I felt present.
That’s what getting outside to connect outside of life’s bullshit will do to you. Will do for you.
I wasn’t alone in my trek. I was able to go on this journey because of an organization called True North Treks (TNT) with 9 other young adult cancer survivors (or “Phasers,” as we now like to affectionately call ourselves). TNT has created an incredible program that helps survivors (ahem, Phasers) get out of their stressful post-treatment environment and into the backcountry of the beautiful wilderness.
For 6 days we canoed 55 miles down the Green River in Utah, camped along sandy beaches or up in rocky cliffs, explored our surroundings with daily “jaunts,” connected around the fire, slept under the stars, and pooped in a bucket in some of the most stunning locations I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking a shit.
Pieces of that trip will sacredly remain back in those red rocks, with the part of me that got left behind. And yet so much of that trip has followed me home. From the bonds I formed and new friends made to re-upping my yoga practice to the daily intentions and mediation exercises used to help re-ground myself when life feels out of control.
I found connection as I paddled through the water, being followed by the Great Blue Heron. I found joy as I pounced up the rocks, remembering the childlike joy I used to feel stomping through the woods and climbing up trees. I found peace as I stared up at a sky so big and so full of shooting stars, it was impossible not to feel incredibly powerful and oh so small, all at once.
True North Treks and the opportunity they provided me will stay ingrained in me for a lifetime. They gave me so much in a single week - parts of myself I thought were lost were once again found because of my experience out in the wild. I'll never be able to accurately or fully describe the depth of what that week did for me and how it changed me, but I can help another experience it for themselves.
Part of the TNT model is their "Pay it Forward" initiative. I was able to go on this trip because of a past trekker's generosity and fundraising efforts. So now it's my turn to give something back and I'm asking for help. If you'd like to be a part of another young adult cancer survivor's future trek, please consider donating to or sharing my fundraising page.
Cancer effects us all. Let's help create a positive and life altering experience for another deserving "Phaser."
*Sex not included on TNT Treks. Sorry.