My Cancer Superheroes

Heidi Adams — By on April 7, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Last night we held an Austin event in partnership with the Lance Armstrong Foundation to kick off National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. We were hosted by Mellow Johnny’s, Lance’s bike shop, which is a very cool and hip downtown venue. We had good food, drinks and music, and an awesome local artist named Ian Cion staged a photo shoot for some collaborative community art madness. Let me explain…

So, people put together costumes from assorted wigs, clothing and craft materials, including my daughter’s four superhero capes and an astronaut helmet (don’t ask me why she has four superhero capes and an astronaut helmet. She just DOES, okay?). Then they bounced on one of two mini-trampolines so Ian could take a photo in mid-air. He’s going to cut out the images and superimpose them on a large sky background to create a giant young adult mural of flying people, which we’ll continue to add to over the course of the year.

There is a certain method to the madness of this crazy idea. To me, every single one of you is a superhero. You are young adults, facing the indignity of a cancer diagnosis at the time of your life when you are SUPPOSED to be invincible and unstoppable as you charge full force down your life’s path.

It’s paradoxical, I guess. Cancer shatters the illusion of invincibility but, in that same moment, your real strength and power is revealed. Your “inner superhero,” so to speak.

At a certain point in the evening, I was on the phone, calling in to the Stupid Cancer radio show to chat with fellow advocates Matt Zachary of i2y and Kairol Rosenthal, author of the new book Everything Changes. I was listening to Selma Schimmel, founder of Vital Options and a pioneer in the field of young adult cancer support, while I was half-watching Olympic swimmer and TC survivor Eric Shanteau wreak havoc in the SCS chat room with another YA survivor, Jordan Deathe, as they tested the limits of the obscenity auto-filter.

(Seriously, y’all, they were CRYING, they were laughing so hard.)

(Oh, and that cussing idea was not-so-innocently instigated by our very own JT, just so you know.)

And it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was surrounded by friends, both present and remote. That even though we may not all know a lot about each other, we *get* each other. We don’t have to fill in the backstory, with all its gory and sometimes painful details, because we already know it. We IM, text, email, call, tweet and hold hands to offer each other support–we’ve got each other’s backs, near and far.

Those of us who advocate professionally–my PC colleagues Tom and Courtney, LAF president and YA survivor Doug Ulman, Matt, Kairol, Selma, and so many others–we support and reinforce each other because we’re out there working for a cause that we believe in with all our hearts and souls. We’re working for dear life, really. For our own lives, and for friends who lost theirs too soon.

A lot has changed in the world of young adult cancer in the 15 years since I was diagnosed. We still have a long way to go, for sure, but I am overwhelmed by how far we’ve come.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the superheroes, now revealed, who surround me.

So…who’s ready to FLY?!

The rest is here:
My Cancer Superheroes

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