I tried really hard but between the intriguing conversation with my Ethiopian taxi cab driver and the bumps from Denver’s road construction, I couldn’t seem to snap a great picture of the mountains. Not everyone’s amazing at iPhone photography. Case in point:

crappy-mountain-picture1

crappy-mountain-picture2

Contrary to what the pictures may seem, the Colorado Rockies were beautiful. I kept staring at the white-topped peaks, curious how exactly “faith as small as a mustard seed” could move them. Realizing it’s a symbol pointing to something greater, I appreciated that I finally understood. It was nice to be in Denver again.

Working in Denver

I work as part of a virtual team at Fight Colorectal Cancer which means most of my co-workers live in cities all over the U.S. Thanks to Google, we work online most of the time. But every few months we travel to meet face-to-face. This isn’t only nice when it comes to meeting fellow survivors, but it’s also great for our team.

There’s certain things that can’t quite translate across the computer screen.

Plus, it’s fun to meet in person. One unique, yet fun, aspect to the team is that we often meet in our homes when we’re on the road. We eat at each other’s kitchen tables, admire our individual decorating styles and use one another’s pottys. Talk about close-knit.

This particular trip to Denver focused on patient education and research. I caught up with the girls leading this area about upcoming plans and what they have in the works. We reviewed focus group feedback and made changes to our publications in light of it. In the midst of heavy discussions, we took a break to discuss our spirit animals.

I’m a llama in case you were wondering.

llama-spirit-animal

Why I Do What I Do

The trip was short but beneficial in many ways.

As I rolled my suitcase through the airport, I initially started thinking about my to-do list. But then I started reflecting on my “why.” It was a question I’ve sought to answer for several months.

When I first accepted my job, it was a no-brainer. A communications job in colorectal cancer for a survivor who studied PR – it couldn’t be a better fit. But unprocessed trauma and triggers that bring it back have a way of rocking the mental boat. Along the way I lost my “why”

Why work in colorectal cancer every day?

Why jump into an environment that reminds me of my personal pain? Why risk relationships if death’s knocking at our doors? Why surround myself with cancer after I’ve survived it myself?

The questions seemed to bring a darkness that hung so low on some days, light could barely shine through. I simply tried to put one foot in front of the other.

Thankfully, those days passed but the experience will stick forever. It’s a side of cancer survivorship I didn’t anticipate, but I am passionate to share.

Many of us who strive to “give back” may face it (regardless of if it becomes a job).

I looked around the airport at others walking by with squeaky suitcases and wondered if they too would be impacted by the disease one day. I checked my notifications on Facebook and saw survivors liking, sharing and commenting on our Facebook posts. I checked my email and read several messages from fellow survivors who wanted a copy of our newly released-magazine. I thought about my family at home waiting for me.

All of these people were my why.

They where why I risked it to work in colorectal cancer each day.

They were why I’d left home for a few days.

They were why I found myself in Denver staring out a taxi cab window taking crappy pictures of the mountains.

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