In June 2015 I was blessed to be given a kayaking trip by a wonderful organization called First Descents that gives free adventures to young cancer survivors. I knew it would be life changing, but I had no idea just how much it would change me. My FD experience inspired me to write and paint again. This blog is a direct result of my time spent with FD. It costs about $1000 cash for each participant in addition to corporate sponsors and volunteers. This weekend I will be climbing with my children to raise money so that another person affected by cancer can have the same experience. I would really appreciate your help! Every donation makes a difference!
My fundraising page is HERE. As a thank you I will be painting custom watercolors for my top donors and one donor chosen at random. I will also send an original piece to every donor up to 20. If I get more than that I will do a larger work and send 5×7 prints to all donors and do custom pieces for the top three and one randomly chosen donor. Even if you can’t make a donation at this time, I could really use your help. Please share my fundraising page on FB and other social media. I will post some of my artwork at the end of this post and have links on FB for my portfolio that are visible to anyone who friends me there (Trip Griffith). Please help spread the word about this fundraiser and about this wonderful organization. If you know anyone who qualifies for a First Descents adventure (affected by cancer ages 18-49), please let them know. If anyone wants to talk to an alum to find out more, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few of the things I have gained from my FD experience that I would love to give to someone else:
- The most amazing group of friends in my FD tribe. My fellow campers, the volunteers, our river guides – some of the kindest, loving people I have ever met. Many have dedicated themselves to raising awareness, funding research and supporting those affected by cancer. I stand in awe of their dedication and strength. I made lifelong friends who love me, inspire me and support me and a community of people who get what I am going through without me even saying a word.
- I learned that even after chemo, radiation and surgery, I can still push my body to the max and it won’t completely fall over. I now have the confidence to push my limits as I continue to heal from treatment. If I can go down a class III rapid in a kayak, I can do anything. And if I can do the second half upside down and backwards and come out laughing, there is no challenge I can’t meet.
- I reconnected with my artistic side. I’ve always loved to create through writing and art. But somewhere along the way I lost my connection to that part of myself. My FD experience not only gave me back my inner writer and artist, but gave me the confidence to put my creations out in the world.
- The first time my instructor rolled my kayak I was stunned. I felt at home in the river. As a survivor of childhood abuse, I had to lock away and protect parts of myself during childhood. I had several years of therapy and treatment for PTSD and thought I had peeled away all of the layers, but being on the river opened up a door I didn’t even know existed. I got back that girl who loved the water, who connected with the river and felt at home there. I got to spend a whole week in one of my favorite places on earth with people who understand that connection and love the river as much as I do. I even got to jump off a bridge and have video of it to show my kids.
- I made the transition from cancer person to a person who was affected by cancer. After a cancer diagnosis, your whole life revolves around treatment. Everyone around you is focused on your illness. When you lose your eyelashes and eyebrows during chemo, you wear your disease on your face. People look at you with sympathy, or like they know you are practically dead. I even had people burst into tears and walk away just from seeing my face. With my FD tribe I was treated as a person, not a patient. I didn’t have to explain anything. Everyone knew what I had been through, many had experienced it themselves and we didn’t need to talk about it unless we wanted to. I could just be me. FD reminded me that I am so many things – mother, friend, artist, writer, wife, adventurer, nature lover, kayaker (who knew?). Cancer is something that happened to my body, but it isn’t who I am.
Please help me give the FD experience to another young person affected by cancer. Any donation would be greatly appreciated. Even if you can’t donate, please share my campaign through social media. I’ve posted a few of my favorite paintings on this post. My portfolio is available on FB to anyone who friends me “Trip Griffith”. I’m not a pro, but every painting comes with a lot of love thrown in. So far I have attempted pet portraits, action shots, landscapes, sunsets and even a closeup portrait. My top donors will receive a custom painting of a subject of their choice. And every donor has a shot at a custom painting. Please consider a donation!
Trip (Katie) Griffith
The first set of paintings are with water color pencils, Inktense pencils and watercolor crayons. The second set are water color paint. All are done on 5×7 watercolor cards. The people and animals are inspired by photos. The landscapes were done while on vacation and inspired by the view.