FD Magic

I went to Colorado last week to participate in a cancer camp.  It is called First Descents, and it is MAGIC.


I honestly cannot even put it into words, but I’m gonna try.  Picture this:  15 participants who currently have cancer or who have had cancer; staff, including medical personnel, chefs, and volunteer “moms”; and guides from the Colorado Mountain School (https://coloradomountainschool.com/).

We ate great food, connected through conversations, played games, went on hikes, shared two bathrooms, and climbed mountains.  Literally and figuratively.

I want to introduce these people, because they are wonderful.  Inspiring.  Kind.  Talented.  Ranging from age 21 to 39.  They are parents, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers.  They are hair dressers, flower arrangers, students, nutritionists, nannies.  They are comedians; they are listeners.  They are survivors, and they are REAL.  They are living with such tenacity and grace that it is tangible.  I would love to introduce these beautiful souls. Who, by the way, have nicknames.  FD does this nickname thing, and I’m going with it.

The boys:  Riff and Smart Ass (Smarty, Love Cub, my son for the week)

The ladies: Yoyo, Roz (my hobbit hole neighbor), Boots, Mangoes (my roomie), Queens, Rockie, Shor-tay, Ajota, Pint Sized, Donut, Cupcake, Grace, and Rockie.

And my name is Tia.  Tia Maria.

Staff: Captain O and Phishy (leaders), Nomad and Muscles (cooks), Ama D (medical staff), and volunteers/camp “moms” – Meow, Chriskers, Cheech and Chong.  Chong also was our photographer for the week.

Climbing guides: Little Bit, Spare Parts, and Author.

Better yet, here’s a poem written by Ajota (at 4:30 in the morning?  Icing her lip with a tea bag?)

O’s our Captain
Phishy’s our dancer
Meow is sick
but she don’t have cancer.
Chriskers got whiskers
Love Cub’s got a beard
Grace is zen
and Ajota is weird.
Pint-Sized is ripped
Yoyo is a beauty
Cheech is kind
but Chong is (a cutie).
Author is deliberate
Spare Parts is funny
Riff’s got a voice
smooth like honey.
Donut’s got the smile
Cupcake’s got the eyes
Queens got the hair
Muscles got the thighs.
Little Bit helps a lot
Our mom is Shor-tay
Roz looks flawless,
like 20, not 40.
Rockie likes fudge
Boots gotta shop
My girl Tia’s
gonna come out on top.
Nomad’s our chef
Ama D’s our doc
Mangoes be climbin’
and crushin’ that rock.
This is us
the Colorado Crew
Watch our world
we’re comin’ for you!
(by AJ Gengler)

FD family

That’s the easy part.  Describing the atmosphere is next to impossible.  Let’s just say that I laughed, cried, and proved to myself that this broken body can still do cool shit.  LOTS of cool shit.  I am so proud of myself (and everyone else there, really) for tackling what we did.  For reaching the top.  For doing it blindfolded.  For “challenge by choice”.  For reiterating the fact that we are indeed “out living it”.


Cheers to my FD family, and to many, many more adventures.

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