YACC Conference: Crush Cancer


What a ride. I am not sure I will ever be able to put into words how this trip made me feel. Safe, comfortable, trusted and rawness are a few words that come to mind and resonate with all the memories and friends that I made over the last few days.

In 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I remember thinking to myself that everything would be okay as long as I made it to graduation. After my 7 months of chemo and radiation, I thought it was over and cancer was behind me; unfortunately, that didn't happen as I was then told that my cancer had relapsed into mutated cancer called Grey Zone Lymphoma. I was so mad at myself, at my cancer and the doctors. I was told that I would be undergoing a Stem Cell Transplant using my own stem cells and that this was the only "cure" available.


Looking back, I don't even remember what was going through my head. No one understood how I felt or the challenges I was facing with my body and mind. I was alone and sad with no one to talk to without them looking at me with pity. Even my best friends, who were there for me, couldn't comprehend my daily struggles.

1 year later, I discovered YACC and my world changed; I attended my first ever YACC Retreat in Vancouver and it was like something switched inside me. I was around people who shared the same stories as I did. I could laugh and talk and be 100% honest about my feelings and struggles without fear. I had found my family.

This year, I had the absolute pleasure of attending my first ever YACC Conference in Newfoundland. Holy shit: I was nervous but excited to once again feel that spark I had felt in Vancouver. I met my amazing roommate (my soul sister), reconnected with my friends from the YACC Retreat and was introduced to some fucking amazing people - and more importantly, amazing people who shared their stories with me.

On the first night, I got to sit with my Lymphoma family. This was one of my favourite moments because we got to openly talk about our stories, issues, concerns, and side effects. We got to ask questions and compare cancer notes, and feel comfortable with the fact that our own struggles were shared by this group. I felt a sense of relief knowing that my own issues were not as uncommon as I had thought. I got to meet a beautiful lady who had a stem cell treatment, and I also met the person who inspired me to actually get my shit together and join the YACC community.

Throughout the rest of the weekend, I attended amazing workshops on mortality, forgiving yourself, leaving a legacy and telling your story. I gathered tools that I will use for the rest of my life when cancer weighs on my heart and soul. I hiked up Signal Hill, Cape Spear and danced my heart out on George Street. I laughed, and cried, and remembered my friends and family who are no longer here - I will forever be indebted to this group of amazing people and I cannot wait to see what they all achieve in this infernal life.

Remember: It's okay to not be okay.


4 comments

  1. You are amazing inside and out!!! So proud to say that you are my cousin and so blessed to have spent the past week with your beautiful soul��

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    1. Thank you so much! It meant the world to me to come and be with you guys, can't wait for next time!!

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  2. Kayla, so awesome to meet you at SC and so great to hear your honest and courageous perspective. High 5 to you for coming! YACC's got your back!

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    1. Thank you so much Geoff! I am so grateful to be part of this family.

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