Cancer defines you. It becomes you. Even when it is gone, it’s still there. It’s in your memories, your fears, and your dreams.
While gone, it’s not forgotten.
Cancer is a beast but it can be tamed. It can be harnessed. It can be used to shape your world view, providing you an x-ray view of sorts that few other people possess.
Things that may have annoyed you in the past? Irrelevant now. An understanding of inadequacies in our healthcare policy? Brighter than 10 suns. A glimpse into how incredible our doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and life-saving technology is? Something I’ll never forget and will always espouse.
Cancer changed me. There’s no doubt about that. There’s no one who could ever say it didn’t. But what I can say is that it’s changed me for the better.
Yes, I’m probably a little more emotional – vulnerable some may call it – or don’t, meh, won’t put up with other’s bullshit. But I also have a deeper understanding and appreciation for health, healthcare, my own privilege, family and friend support, and without a doubt, optimism and positivity.
As many of you know who have been reading from the beginning, I knew I’d beat cancer.
It wasn’t a question.
As I look back over the last year, it’s honestly been nothing but short of amazing. Yes, there was heartbreak, and a job layoff – wait, make that now two (stupid virus) – which dampened the mood a bit. But there has been so much love, joy, adventure, laughs, wins, summits, fist bumps, new beginnings, and friendships.
Those moments are the ones I will look back on fondly over the next 10, 20, 50 years…or until some loose boulder finally takes me out on a faraway mountainside.
So, let’s talk about all those wins and what I’ve been up to since April of 2019, though I’ll give a quick health update.
In late February 2020, I had a CT scan and it came back just fine. No growth or anything to be concerned about. I also had an Echocardiogram to check out my heart and that was good. My health, overall, is excellent and hasn’t stopped me from doing anything – but I am a bit slower which is a frustrating reality to accept at the moment. I can only take, “But Alec, you just had cancer, give it time,” so many times before my head will explode but alas, I heeded the wisdom.
What I’ve learned from this year is what I’ve always wanted to believe.
Cancer was only a speed bump for me. And what I want most is to change the narrative around cancer. Yes. Yes. It’s deadly and takes so so many lives. But it also spits even more out onto the other side. There is a life after cancer. I always believed it and I truly believe that as more people realize this, more people will go into their battle with cancer optimistic and wholeheartedly believing they will live their life once again with joy.
While cancer challenged me physically and emotionally, I’m lucky enough to have walked away unscathed and with the ability to hit the ground running towards the things that I love.
Here’s what briefly happened over the last 365 days:
- I summited two 14er’s in 2019 and another two 13’ers.
- I hiked across the Grand Canyon in under 11 hours.
- Solo backpacked into some of Colorado’s most beautiful terrain.
- I, along with 4 friends, explored Iceland together – creating a lifetime of memories.
- Spent 4 days and 40 miles in one of the country’s most desolate wildernesses and then another 5 days invading two National Parks with two awesome gents.
- I’ve taken more photos in a year than I ever thought possible.
- I met an amazing gal who’s so energetic, outgoing, and up for adventure, I have to pinch myself. I was able to explore Southern Utah and see (and feel) its spectacular winter.
- My dad and I did our first backpacking trip together as adults.
- Roadtripped to some Arizona gems and met Mike who ended up walking across the entire United States and seems to want to keep walking until the sun goes out.
- I met a really great group of outdoor adventurers who are the most fun to be around.
- Completed two half marathons.
These moments happened, for some reason, thanks to a higher power ushering me into post-cancer life. Not everyone gets that chance. I’m fully aware of it.
With that said, I’m taking full advantage of it because I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t. I’d be doing a disservice to everyone who went through painstaking trials to find a treatment. It’d be a disservice to every medical professional who did research, studied, read pages and pages and pages of notes, and took a risk to find the right mix of drugs to kill my tumor.
We beat cancer so we can live again. We live again to feel alive. And I plan to be alive for as long as someone or something will allow it.
Here’s to a second year with no cancer, with no worries, and tons and tons of joy.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
You can follow along the journey on Facebook and Instagram or shoot me any questions and comments about places to go. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when new posts come out!
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