Like every summer, a "Young Adult" group went on a sailing trip in an authentic yacht on the North Sea, off the magical Dutch coast. They embarked on the yacht trip with 13 young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 and by 3 escorts, a social worker, a physician and a volunteer escort.For almost all of the participants, this was the first time they boarded a real sailing yacht. The young participants operated the ship, including lifting the sails and navigating, cleaning and maintenance, and preparing meals. Additionally, the pastoral scenery and the picturesque homes near the port were a lovely finishing touch to this initial breathtaking experience. Ana Goulevia, one of the participants wrote: “I woke up into a Dutch dream….it took me a few seconds to realize that this was actually real; after a year and a half of tremendous pain, suffering and fear, I am far away from home with a group of people who understand what I went through, and maybe they can even sense what's going to happen to me in the future, and the best part is that they make me feel really at home”.
During the entire week the participants lifted sails each morning, and after sailing for several hours, they anchored in a different area of Friesland, Holland, where they toured on their own. They became acquainted with the way of life in this town and absorbed the local culture through walking tours. The group spent a lovely time together, which included bike riding (for most of the participants, this was their first physical activity since they were diagnosed with the disease), kite flying, and some time at the beach. They returned completely exhausted, but full of motivation and faith in themselves. As Ana put it: "We set sail in the morning...we slept outside while the yacht sailed.....we played the guitar, sang our favorite songs, and talked about all kinds of things....it felt so natural...sometimes I asked myself if the connection with everyone is something beyond coincidental? Or perhaps because we shared a similar experience we feel more comfortable about getting close to one another....today I mustered the courage to write my thoughts down in my diary - that ever since the trip began, I haven't been feeling the pain that has accompanied me since I was diagnosed with the disease......"She continued: "Today I feel that this trip really symbolizes my embarking on new beginnings in my life, or coming back to life...the cycling trip was terrific...and then we flew kites....for many of us this was a first time ever experience. For me it symbolizes freedom and regaining control over our lives.....I wonder what each one of my friends felt.....the evening was dedicated to a fascinating discussion in which each one of us played the most significant song in our lives...the conversation was moving, people opened their hearts and shared their most harrowing experiences....."One could get a close look at how these young adults coped emotionally with these experiences: comparing themselves to their peer group, testing boundaries and exploring independence, finding their own place as individuals, forfeiting their ego for the benefit of the group/others, accepting those who are different, and coping with problems with which the group is beset, finding the strength to cope in spite of emotional breakdown, personal and group empowerment, etc. Ana said: "Everything has a beginning and an end....I believe that none of us can say that this trip changed our lives, but there is no doubt that this experience has infiltrated the hearts of each and every one of us...we have made new friends, discovered beautiful places, learned something new about ourselves, and about those around us...."This article is based on the report submitted by Irit Goldshtein - Social Worker, Central Region, Israel Cancer Association, and on the impressions of Ana Goulieva, one of the trip participants.