I stand squinting in the sun as the kids parade off the buses. Quickly, the campgrounds fill with smiling faces, colorful t-shirts and baseball caps. From afar, there seems to be no difference between this place and any other summer camp.
However, underneath many of the t-shirts are chemotherapy ports and surgical scars, below the hats are bald heads and behind the smiles are fears, memories and young lives impacted by cancer. Yet walking through the camp's rainbow-adorned gates, I lead the children into a world of hope. A place without needles, hospital beds, pain or isolation, a place where they can be free. Free of IV poles, free of worries, free of the stares of strangers, free of the word "cancer."
Hand in hand, we race to the playground. As I watch little feet climb up the steps to the top of the slide, I hear the words of Dr. Jerome Groopman, author of The Anatomy of Hope: “Hope is the elevating feeling we experience when we see--in the mind's eye--a path to a better future."
I meet their wide-eyed gazes and toothy smiles as they soar into my arms, imagining this path for themselves.
Stony Brook, New York