Campside Heroes

I attended a wonderful camp this weekend for cancer survivors and was spell bound with what I witnessed! It was called Camp Bluebird and was held at Lakeshore Campgrounds in Eva, TN. The surroundings were beautiful and peaceful, even amidst rain storms and clouds.

Heros were everywhere, each with a special unique story to tell. Folks from all walks of life in and around the area came to celebrate life after having been diagnosed with cancer. The venue gave a voice to the disease ‘cancer’ spoken purposely by its victims.

There were also several nurses, care takers and volunteers to help with the weekend’s activities, including crafts as well as a good old fashion costume contest. Each activity was embraced with smiles and joy to be alive and have one more precious memory.

This crowd was one that was grounded, one where friends are made for life. The wall of secrecy is down at all times and folks talk openly, honestly and with heartfelt thanks. The listening skills of all that attended were at full tilt as we took turns talking and telling our story, what we still struggle with and how our lives have changed.

I heard the story of the beautiful marketing director who survived a horrendous marriage only to be confronted with a cancer diagnosis. There was the lady who survived horrible child abuse to grow up, regain personal strength and then triumphantly beat cancer. There were men in attendance too, each unique but with one common thread ..cancer. One newcomer had survived cancer only to have his wife diagnosed and in less than two years, die. There were more tears for the woman who is now fighting her fourth or fifth battle with a different type of cancer and she just remains strong. She is like a batter that strikes out every time at bat and yet walks up to the plate with the same level determination as if it is the first at bat. She is just waiting for that big swing that makes others simply stand back and watch her ball sail out of the ballpark. Those of us who met her pray that hit comes soon.

The sharing and caring was more than just about cancer, it was about humanity. I met a young woman, close to my daughter’s age, that was from another country and had not completely mastered the English language. She was there to give back, because she cared about others hurting. She felt cancer was an unfairly given, life changing diagnosis. She had her share of hard knocks in her own life, including a childhood were she was made to feel less than everyone else, simply because she was different. Why is it the world does not embrace diversity anymore? Everyone is quick to judge and point out differences of others verses celebrate them. This girl should not have been overlooked as a child. She has so much to offer, and in time, she will continue to touch so many lives with her kind gentle nature and loving heart. Those that never gave her a chance missed out on truly seeing that blessing.

I had been asked to attend this several times and never felt I really had the time to spare. After having gone, I now giggle inside that I ever thought something else on my plate was more important than this. My weekend was filled with memories to sustain a lifetime. I met one hero after another. Each one was willing to be real,with no pretense or reservations about sharing their successes, failures and struggles. I learned so much from listening. I was provided an opportunity to share as well and offer some advice to others. This experience was, as someone there said, life altering.

Heroes come in all sizes and shapes. Truly take the time to learn other’s stories. You may find the differences you once thought you had are minor compared to the similarities. Learning from each other is more what God had in mind for us all. Let down your wall, open your ears and ask for the story behind the person. Then sit back, take it in and thank God for another blessing brought in your life! Heroes want to share. Heroes persevere. Heroes are among us all. May their strength and determination light a path for us all!
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