Even an hour away from landing, I’d look out the window and see nothing but mountains rolling one after the other like a stormy ocean of rock.
We landed in Anchorage just in time for sunrise. Which was nearly 10am!
The state catchphrase is “the Last Frontier,” and it really still does feel like that. Anchorage, being the largest city in the state still has that feeling of the old west. Downtown, you can grab a beer or trade a fur. But don’t fret, you’re still in America; just over the crest you can go to Chili’s and Walmart.
So we stuck with the locals! Which made it all the cooler. Straight from the airport we met up with Carey, who is the fearless leader of the Anchorage Young Adult Cancer Coalition. I love the sound of that, it sounds so revolutionary.
One of the biggest issues of Young Adults with a history of cancer is the feeling of isolation. And I knew coming to Alaska that this state was almost the perfect allegory of that situation. It’s so important that there are people out here like Carey to hold the torch up for the cancer youth around them.
Sam is the perfect example of that isolation story. She moved up here with her parents and, not too long after, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She didn’t know anyone in the entire state of Alaska… until she met the others in the AYACC. Now she’s venturing out and doing all sorts of new things!
The very next day we were scheduled to film with the local hospital in Anchorage. I’d been in contact with them for months and they assured me they had a teen patient to represent the Alaska experience. They finally called me to tell me that teenagers just don’t get cancer. Oh really?
I was pretty upset. I knew there had to be more teen cancer fighters out here in Alaska. But how could I find them? And if I couldn’t find them, how could they possibly find each other?
Of course, nothing clears the mind like a good photographic expedition. And Alaska has to be one of the prettiest places on Earth. So as the sun peeked over those snow-capped mountains, I learned to relax and take in the view. Here I was, on the shore in far-off Alaska! It was amazing to have a moment of peace and really be able to feel how far I’ve come.