They walked in the door already wearing their badges of courage. These couples are fighting pancreas cancer, one of the hardest cancers to overcome. It “used to be” that a diagnosis of pancreas cancer was a short and painful prognosis. None of these couples were new to their disease. Treatment, surgeries or clinical trials has given them at least a year of quality life. Research is discovering crucial elements of this cancer and these patients tell that story as they arrive for a couples retreat that will educate, empower and even entertain them for a long weekend.
They are alive and full of hope. Their hope won’t let death in the door.
I watch as they sign-in….the care-giver and the patient. They protect each other and even though another couple is there to sign-in behind them, they barely acknowledge one another. Fighting cancer is a lonely fight; sharing is limited.
But as the weekend moves along and experts come in waves to share information about nutrition, the importance of physical activity, legal issues and cancer or new treatment discoveries on the horizon, it strikes me the real gift of this time isn’t this wealth of knowledge….it is the simple act of 9 couples sitting next to one another and sharing this journey of fighting this disease. Their privacy walls crumble, they share stories, experiences;good and bad, and they find support in new friends they never knew they had.
They are renewed in their fight. They find the strength to build on the hope they refuse to relinquish.
They find strength in the next chair….