Sunday, 6 December 2015

I found my sense of tumour

A cancer conference? Doesn't exactly sound like my cup of tea. A cancer conference held at Center Parcs? Well, pass me the sugar.

It sound's extremely selfish of me to decide to go on a cancer charity weekend due to its destination, but that is what attracted my attention at first. And to be honest, I am so glad it did.

The Teenage Cancer Trust run's two 'Find Your Sense of Tumour' weekends each year. One weekend for the under 18's and another weekend for over 18's. The conference was full of inspirational talks, presentations, celebrity speakers, play's, on-site workshops and complementary therapies. The weekend itself gave young people, just like me, the opportunity to widen their knowledge on their own cancer diagnosis and other cancer's that affect young people. The inspirational talks allowed people to share their personal experiences that others were able to relate too. Most importantly, the weekend allowed young people that have been in the same or similar position to meet and make life-time long friends. 

Although the weekend was jam packed with early morning starts, there was plenty of time to chill out and appreciate the amazing surroundings center parcs has to offer. With it being mid-november, center parcs had a real christmas feel about it which was an added bonus to the weekend. Prancer, Dasher, Comet and Blitzen even made an appearance! I'm guessing the other reindeers were left at the north pole. 

It was refreshing to be able to spend a weekend with like-minded people that were similar to my age. I felt an instant connection with all the other young people I attended the weekend with. We were all once in the same position; we have felt the same fears, the same worries, the same reliefs. Although we spoke about cancer, we was able to connect on a friendship level also. Learning each others likes and dislikes, how they take their tea, whether they knew how to swim and whether they believed in aliens (yes, that topic was deadly serious). Thankfully, we all got along so well and I was excited to spend the weekend with a great bunch of people. For most of us in the group, it was our first time at the Find Your Sense of Tumour weekend, so it was nice to experience it first time together. 

The weekend itself inspired me, but what also inspired me was listening to each others stories  in-depth amongst our group. The battles each of us had accomplished. The struggles we have had to conquer and how we did it. Being able to sit with someone that had been in remission for years. Being able to watch how someone's had to adapt their life after their cancer diagnosis. It made me feel grateful for the life we all have. 

It was also extremely educational for me. I have had very little experience with tumours at all as my cancer diagnosis was associated with my blood. The majority of the group have had a tumour of some sort, even non-cancerous. Listening to where and how others found their tumour and the difference in the treatment for tumours opened my eyes to the vast variety of cancer's that affect young people. 

Seriousness aside, the weekend was full of so much fun. I was able to relax whilst receiving complementary therapies in the chill out zone and even made a bracelet that my fat wrist can't fit into. I had a blast getting in the swimming pool for the first time since my cancer diagnosis last year. Being reminded that swimming takes a lot more muscle and energy than I previously thought but also showing me that I was getting my strength back! We wen't down majority of the water slides center parcs tropical paradise has to offer and dared the waves in the main swimming pool. We pulled silly faces, serious pouts and smiles at the photo booth and filmed a secret happy birthday video to Sadru; one of the young people in our group. We stayed up until 4am chatting and dancing around our chalet. We even had a visitor (..... Sadru!) to our chalet in the middle of the night that demanded we made him food.. later on there was a knock on the door from our group leader as he had been declared missing (ooops!). We attended the fancy dress night in our best outfits (although some didn't get the memo) - say hello to Bond, Jane Bond. We had a selfie competition seeing how many selfies we could get within 5 minutes with as many dressed up characters, sadly, I lost. Finally, we ended the weekend with an evening meal at Cafe Rogue and The Oscars, with our hospital receiving 2 awards (Biggest Flirt & Messiest House Mate - the best awards of course!) and had a 5* performance from our two talent show contestants - Sadru's Sit Down Comedy and Muz's (Exotic!?) Dance Moves. Apart from the sexual innuendo's, I think we had that talent show in the bag! 

I smiled, I laughed, I even shed a few tear's and lastly and most importantly, I had an unforgettable weekend.
Thank you Teenage Cancer Trust and UCLH for bringing such an amazing group of people together.

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