Cancer affects each individual differently, but nearly all those affected can agree that cancer is not a solo battle, but a battle that is best fought as a team. Shannon Carney, long time 24 Foundation rider, found her support system to be her key to survival when she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2003.
While breast cancer is commonly found either by self examination or a mammogram, Shannon’s partner Dave discovered hers unexpectedly. After 11 years of being cancer-free, Shannon still recalls the numb feeling she felt upon diagnosis. Shannon tried to treat her breast cancer like any other problem that needed to be solved — get the facts, make a decision and act quickly.
“I thought it would be like a sprint run, hit the ground running hard and finish fast,” said Shannon Carney. “But we quickly came to realize this was more like a marathon and that diagnosis was merely filling in the sign-up form. The training and race were yet to come.”
For Shannon, physical treatments, such as chemotherapy proved to be the most challenging for her. However, her physical pain was offset by the emotional and spiritual support she received. Despite experiencing challenges that come with cancer, Shannon and Dave made a conscious choice to continue to do what they love, which included spending time in nature with friends. For example, the night before each chemo treatment, a group of their friends would come to their house for a backyard party. Memories of friends laughing gave Shannon comfort when undergoing treatment.
Shannon’s experience with breast cancer including its physical, emotional and spiritual challenges taught her that the battle requires both stamina and quiet time to process the obstacles it brings. As a result of her cancer journey, Shannon and Dave decided to spread their passion for friends and nature to others and founded Wind River Cancer Wellness Retreats & Programs in 2007. The organization, a beneficiary of 24 Foundation, focuses on the mind, body and spirit — fostering friendships, simplifying, laughing and spending time in nature.
The difficult aspects of cancer, emotional and spiritual struggles, are experienced by a majority of people affected by cancer. More than 40% of all cancer patients go through some form of depression. While most of the feelings do not last, these emotions should not be taken lightly. After seeing cancer from the other side, Shannon stresses to others not to be afraid to seek a counselor or support group.
“Do not go it alone,” Shannon said. “Support looks different for every person. Find what works for you. That might be prayer, meditation or time in nature. Or staying active on your “good” days, with a walk, yoga class or light bike ride, more likely a combination of all of these.”
To learn more about Shannon and Wind River Cancer Wellness Retreats and programs please visit http://www.windriverservices.org/.