Kalele’s Ohana

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This post is an excerpt from a blog of a survivor who attended one of our spring camps. She forwarded me the link and I thought it would be nice to share…

A cool breeze rifles my hair from the hammock under the vanilla tree just steps from the aqua blue waters of the Pacific ocean off the coast of Maui. A week ago I arrived as a newcomer to this island, and a stranger to the fourteen other cancer survivors who shared this special place with me. Now we, as well as the staff and other teachers we have had the good fortune to interact with this week are ohana – “family” in Hawaiian.

This incredible experience was provided to us through an organization called Athletes 4 Cancer whose mission is to enrich lives impacted by cancer through the healing power of the elements and the tenacity of the human spirit. They fulfill that mission with surfing, stand up paddle boarding and snowboarding camps for cancer survivors in Hawaii and Hood River, Oregon. Camp Koru is healing in so many ways. At the outset, just the connection with the incredible beauty of this place and its natural wonders: the water, fragrant flowering plants and the towering volcanic peaks provide a sense of peace not readily available in the fast-pace of the mainland.

For some, just being in the ocean was a new experience that required them to overcome a fear of the unknown. For others, sharing their story for the first time with other survivors was an opportunity to connect with those who have been there. Putting words to an experience that engenders such turbulent emotions is not always easy, but definitely feels safer with someone who has walked a mile in your shoes. With our scars, buckets of meds and all their assorted side effects, sometimes unusual diets, prosthetic and missing parts, not to mention the emotional impacts of facing your own mortality, we can sometimes feel like misfits among the general population. But here, we are just like everyone else, or even realize perhaps that we didn’t have it so bad, after all….

Continue reading Kalele’s full experience and what she got out of it here >

And some images from Kalele’s Camp Koru experience…

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