Written by Samm Newton
Ever heard of the “types” of fun? It goes like this:
Type I: Fun, fun, fun! “Don’t let it end” kind of fun.
Type II: Not fun in the moment, but upon reflection, you’re glad you did it. It builds character.
Type III: Not fun. Ever.
For me, painting is Type I. Athletes 4 Cancer camp was Type II. And you can guess what type of fun cancer is.
I was 25 and living out my quarter-life crisis on a farm in the middle of nowhere California when the hammer fell. My cancer was a rare, aggressive type of thyroid cancer. It spread to my pancreas, kidney, small intestine, colon; they took all that out. Chemo came later.
It was a support group for young adults with cancer that brought me to to A4C.
A4C camp was truly a type II, character-building experience. In June of 2014, I headed to the A4C snow camp. We had the choice between skiing and snowboarding, and I thought, “I’m not cool. I can’t snowboard,” so skiing it was. Except no one told me everyone else was cool, and I ended up on the slopes not with the other survivors, but with the counselors (no offense, counselors).
I was by myself a lot of time, feeling like I was missing out on the snowboarding camaraderie. Here I thought I might be the rock, the leader even, for everyone else to lean on. Instead, the experience forced me to examine some of my fears, emotions, and anxieties. Plus, just a lot of mental things that happen to you after cancer.
I was almost angry when I left. I was just in a really strange place.
It wasn’t until much afterwards, when I was really able to sift through everything that happened to me, that I realized what an amazing experience A4C camp was. Type II fun can be powerful.
Since camp, I’ve also met tons of other campers who love A4C and the hope it gives to survivors. I can see what it’s done for the friends I’ve made. Sometimes, I think what I’ve taken away from it is seeing the happiness of those other people. And I believe in it for that reason too.
As my third anniversary of “no signs of cancer” approaches this April, you can find me painting artwork for A4C. Consider donating to A4C here.