Sunday, July 05, 2009

Forum Family Fix 2009 and its aftermath

The TC-Cancer online support forum had its annual get together on July 4th in New Jersey. I hadn't been to one before, but since we had extra mandatory vacation days tacked onto the holiday weekend, I decided to make the trek (just me this time, next time it will be a family affair).

What a blast! Probably about 30 survivors, supporters and kids came and we partied until the wee hours of the morning. New friends were made and old friendships were renewed. It's a group of folks who, were it not for the connection through testicular cancer, probably would have no reason to meet and talk. As one of the participants shared:
I can't help feeling like everyone here is very much an extended family to me. I'll never be happy that cancer entered my life. But I can't help feeling very fortunate indeed for having found so many beautiful people, each so unique and special, because of it.
For me at least, there wasn't a lot of emotion connected with our gathering at the time, just folks having a good time. Then there was the next day.

I was in New York Sunday morning to kill time before my flight. I was dropped off in Midtown (about 56th and 6th Ave) with another couple from the group who was staying in the city for a couple of extra days. So I was walking down 5th Ave and passed a Presbyterian church. I found myself wondering, "maybe there's a Methodist church nearby..." so I whipped out the phone and did a search. Boom, there's Christ Church UMC at 60th and Park Ave, about 8 blocks from where I was. And, as it turned out, they had a service starting at 11 (it was about 5 past at the time). I hauled a$$ over to the church and took a seat near the back, about 10 minutes into the service.

The Scripture readings for the day and the sermon were all about being strong in our broken places. The preacher also quoted from Maya Angelou's poem read at President Clinton's first inauguration: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived but, if faced with courage, need not be lived again." It dovetailed so well with the sentiment expressed at our gathering of those touched by testicular cancer that I found myself overcome with emotion. Joining in the celebration of communion just took the emotion to the next level.

After the service, I basked for a while in the beautiful weather in Central Park with a sense of grace, peace, and serenity, thankful that I have been blessed to join a group who have been able to help me (and many others) find strength in a time of weakness. Can't wait for the next one!

Flipping cancer the bird


Aegletes said...

This is a very moving post, Vinny. It reminded me of how I felt after my first Forum Family Fix in 2008. I thought I'd feel differently this time, over a year after my 2008 DX, yet the same feelings come back, much like yours. There's something really powerful about being among others who have gone through what we all have.