Colin Loves Tractors Follow Colin's progress through treatment for a brain tumor

February 22, 2012

Taking a Plunge

Filed under: Physical Therapy — Tags: , — Mom @ 10:46 pm

Wow, we just got back from an amazing week at Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine. It’s not just about the fun activities and plethora of friendly volunteers but the incredible sense of community and support. This is a place where the kids, patients and siblings alike, are embraced for who they are and encouraged in everything they do. By the same token, parents are able to come together and share their stories, fears, insights, and anything else that comes up. Dealing with life threatening illness has a tendency of beating up every member of the family, often in tiny, invisible increments.

Of course, we remain indebted and grateful to St. Jude for treating Colin and giving us the hope that he had a fighting chance, but Camp Sunshine provides an intangible elixir that buoys all of us. During our latest visit to camp, we all went on a ski trip and Colin was able to do adaptive skiing at Shawnee Peak. He is not just a passenger but an active participant. He got quite chatty with the guides and told them he wanted to go fast, so fast they went!

Colin Rocks the Bumps

Click for the YouTube video: Colin Adaptive Skiing Shawnee Peak 2012

After a few runs on the lower half of the mountain, we took the lift all the way to the top. We got a fabulous view of Mt. Washington and the area around the slopes, and Colin got a great ride down. We came in for a break, during which he happily ate a snack, and immediately told me he wanted to go back. Our guides were kind enough to bring him back out again after a break and he got a last run before we left for the day.

From the Top

Click for the YouTube video: From the top: Colin adaptive skiing on a Camp Sunshine ski trip

It is difficult to describe what this experience meant to us and to Colin. For us as parents, this is the age where we had expected Colin to be taking ski lessons and we could start taking serious family ski trips. We had him on skis before he was diagnosed just to get him used to the idea of it.

Perhaps most importantly, everybody who faces challenges has to be able to envision a goal to move ahead to something tangible. For months, we coached Colin on the importance of walking on his own to see Santa, but it feels like we lost some focus in the interim. Having Colin experience skiing firsthand allowed him to participate in an activity others were doing, so he wasn’t left out. It also gave him something to shoot for.

Back at camp, Colin was a social butterfly, running around and striking up conversations with everybody and playing with friends, particularly Alivia, one of our Memphis friends. We were fortunate to have convinced her mom, Leticia, to brave the cold and bring the family up for an amazing experience. Her daughter Arianna was in treatment at the same time as Colin, but had to go back into treatment in the meantime. We knew how wonderful camp was, so we encouraged them to come up for the session and give the girls a taste of New England winter and, of course, a heavy dash of Camp Sunshine magic.

This weekend, we participate in Freezin’ for a Reason, a polar plunge benefit for Camp Sunshine. It costs $2,000 to sponsor a single family for camp, and they are now operating in every season. There are different kinds of brain tumor sessions, bereavement, different diseases (in particular, Fanconi’s anemia), and organ transplants. This is a great opportunity to support a good cause (also four-star rated on Charity Navigator); please visit our fundraising page.

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