At the end of my cancer treatments, the nurses all said something like: "Now you need to go on a nice vacation." I remember one nurse saying specifically: "Now you need to find a rock on a beach somewhere and sit on it." I didn't take their advice very seriously, besides, my family had been doing without me for almost a year...like I was going to abandon them for one more day.
So, with both feet eager and ready, I jumped neck deep back into life as rapidly as possible. But something wasn't right. As time went on, and emotional struggles multiplied, I realized it was going to take something more than both feet to get my life back. But I didn't know what.
I pushed onward, only to find it more and more difficult to cope with the simplest things. After a while I noticed that everytime I learned of the loss of a friend or even a stranger, to cancer, things became progressively worse. I got to the point that I would become angry if I went to my survivor support group and found out that someone's remission had ended and they were back in the fight. It felt like for every person that lost their life, I had to be even more perfect, more effective and more capable to earn my right as survivor. It was in this state of white-knuckling survival mode, that a vacation we had planned and cancelled and planned and cancelled again, actually not only survived the planning stage, but magically came to fruition.
Our vacation was set way back in the mountains, just north of Sundance. BYU runs a family camp called Aspen Grove that we've gone to before and that I've always loved, but I never knew it would save my life. But after only two days, I felt the old me finally returning. I used to look at pictures of me before cancer, and wonder: "who's that? she looks so familiar". But now, even though I definitely don't look like the girl in the pictures, I can claim that girl as myself.
Ever try that mental exercise where you imagine yourself in a beautiful, peaceful setting, like a beach? I did that a lot when treatments got hard, and the place I imagined was always Aspen Grove. Maybe that has something to do with why being there had such an instant, palpable impact on my well-being. Or maybe humans have a reset button, like a lot of electronic devices. If that's the case, I know where mine is...ten miles up Provo Canyon.