Expédition traversée des deux Mario

Dealing with the vastness and strength of nature reminds us of how small we are as humans. Human beings, so great and so fragile. A mystical and cruel paradox.

Dealing with cancer is a harsh reality that catches up with us and reminds us that every second counts. We are not invincible. Quite often, we prefer to believe that we are invincible and that this only happens to others. When cancer strikes, it is like a cold storm takes us by surprise. You can cover up as much as you can, the dampness has already done its damages and the whole body is shaking, freezing to the bone.

In my opinion, the Mario Double Challenge is also a metaphor for what young people with cancer are going through. This Challenge, we experience it together, but especially within ourselves. It’s a return to our roots, to that human vulnerability. It’s stopping for a moment to take the time to connect to the basics.

On the lake, the temperature is mild compared to past journeys. Participants interact with each other in good spirits and smiles. It is good to see. A taste of happiness.

The group is progressing rapidly. Rapidly and fluidly. We stand as a group. We move on laughing and joking throughout the morning. A fine group of good people and storytellers of all kinds.

After lunch, the wind and snow arrive, unannounced. With our eyes on the camp in the distance that awaiting the participants, each one refocuses on himself, tightens his anorak and focuses on patience, strength and determination.

“It’s just a cancer…” Marie-Hélène Côté’s stoic and resilient statement, pronounced after her third recurrence, still rings out in our minds and hearts. It feeds the inner flame that encourages us to pursue the journey. “It’s just wind…” Some of us talk about their fast-paced lives, loss of meaning, disconnection with ourselves of essentials and of nature.

One participant was outraged: “Young people no longer go out. They are overwhelmed by technology. And when we ask them to concentrate in class, they explode… then we give them medication… In my time, there was no Facebook and social media. We spent our time outside…. What we’re going through there is what young people should be doing. Send them outside! It is the best therapy.” The outdoors certainly has its virtues. And the Double Challenge allows us to enjoy it: we taste nature and connect to ourselves.

When arriving at the camp, the wind reminds you to drink, eat, move… In short, taking care of yourself is key to the Challenge. Always with a smile, everyone is in their tents to make sure that we are taking good care before bedtime. Storytellers are still spreading laughter in the tents. We can already feel the strength of this group through their humour, their strength and determination.

“The challenge is also inside yourself before anything else,” says Cantin before the end of the day.

Yes, walking across the lake is also walking within yourself. And that, the participants experienced it to several degrees today.

Laura Ducharme

Photographer and Blogger for On the Tips of the Toes Foundation