In Vermont, the daffodils are patiently waiting for the snow to stop falling and the migrating songbirds are keeping their distance, generally, until some warmer weather returns. But, based on the thawed dirt backroads (aka mud season) and the maple sap running, it’s spring in Vermont again–and that means Hope, the Stowe Weekend of Hope, more exactly.
This year’s Stowe Weekend of Hope is April 29 to May 1, and you can find all the details at www.stowehope.org. This year, a busy schedule with my own business kept me from scheduling my usual “Walk and Talk” on the Stowe Rec Path, Friday morning. Sorry! But I want to give a shout-out to loyal attendees: I’m fine, and I’ll miss seeing you there!
Hey: I’ve got an idea, if anyone is around, take each other for a walk by meeting at 10 a.m. behind the big white church in Stowe, and amble away on the Stowe Rec Path, talking with each other about your cancer recovery and your plans for the weekend of hope.
Hope. It’s the best choice that I made when I was in cancer treatment. I was scared, really scared, but I put my trust in the power of the medical treatment, the power of a positive attitude, and the power of a holistic approach to self-care and complementary care during my treatment. I included acupuncture, massage, herbal medicine and counseling. And I included my daily dose of exercise.
And I followed my doctors’ treatment plans, although I admit I was a questioning and highly involved patient. (Okay, maybe I was even confrontational and a pain-in-the-neck at times, but I had read that patients of that ilk survived longer, so… sorry, I was going to ask all the questions I had.)
The best hours of my cancer treatment period (about 6 months of chemotherapy, post-surgery) were ones when I could forget that I was bald (yes!) and forget that I was sapped of my usual strength. I found enough strength to swim–or proto-swim, really just float. I found enough energy to walk outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and birds. I found enough energy to yell “hit it” which for a water-skier means “get going with that boat and let me ski along the lake surface like magic!”
Exercise, even a 10-minute walk, renewed my hope every time. I felt alive. I could sense the suffering, but it didn’t seem so bad if I could still move.
I remember reading about a cancer patient who visualized dancing, when too weak to dance. Did this raise her immune system function? I have to think so.
I found that I didn’t hope in proportion to my “percentage chance of recurrence”. I hoped wildly and thoroughly, every day, to get past cancer recovery into good health again. I leaned on other people’s hope, too. My husband was certain I would recover completely. Okay, let’s go with that hope.
There were sometimes doubters: I ignored them. “I don’t believe in being ‘realistic’.” I said. “I believe in optimism.”
Optimism is comforting. It’s encouraging. It rallies your will to eat those extra vegetables or nourish your yearning for a trip to the ocean to see the waves. Hope makes you walk another quarter of a mile to keep your heart strong. Hope makes you want to take every step with joy. The future is ahead, but in the present, there is always room for hope and for joy and for gratitude. The choice is ours.
I’m quietly celebrating 9 years of cancer-free survival this April, while watching a few dear ones in the midst of their own cancer challenges. I’m humbled by their grace and I’m ever grateful for my own good luck.
I wish you all a good weekend of Hope, and every day, thereafter, as much hope as you can embrace. I may even make it over to the Stowe Rec Path Friday morning myself. Just informally, but that’s okay. I’ll be the one with the binoculars, looking for birds! Please say hello if you see me.
Peace and love,
P.S. In looking at the Stowe Weekend of Hope schedule, participants interested in movement, exercise and healing may be interested in the all-day Friday workshop, described this way: Enjoy!
Hope and Wellness Through Movement for the Mind and Body
LOCATION: STOWEFLAKE RESORT – Room: Atrium
David Dorfman, Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer, Cancer Fitness Coach, and Other Instructors. All levels and abilities welcome!
- 9:00 am — Full-Day Session Begins with Welcome and Overview
Join us for a full day of healing activities including yoga, meditation, biking, and much more! Pick what’s right for you and join us for our Weekend of Hope exercise program. All levels and abilities welcome!