Thursday, September 1, 2011

Funky Sexy Manifesto #1 Have a "Celebration of Life" Party

I did this Funky Sexy Manifesto #1 but it had to undergo a name change. You see, "Celebration of Life" was the name that my fiancé's aunt gave to her funeral. I did not learn that until after I shared my Funky Sexy Manifestos with my fiancé. This woman was the twin of my to-be mother-in-law and she passed away from cancer that metastisized throughout her body. So to honour her memory, I decided to select a new name for the event I wanted to celebrate my "cancer-free"-ness. I decided to call it the ICanSurvive Picnic and Potluck which I feel is an equally positive moniker. I wanted to celebrate my new lease on life, express gratitude for my healing, and share these special moments with my friends. On top of that, it was my birthday week (see Funky Sexy Manifesto #73) and I also wished to raise money for a good cause too. So I invited guests to bring a dish, $ 10, or both. The collected funds will be donated to Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) which organized an annual young adult retreat in Newfoundland that I attended.

Although, I invited almost over 700 people in the end (I opened it out to my facebook list when I realized I had a-l-o-t of space for guests), my numbers were modest. When I had two friends come within the first two hours, I became fixated on the fact that no one else showed up. But then I stopped myself. I decided to cherish this precious moment with these friends and eventually over the hours that proceeded, there was a steady trickle of guests. Some got a little lost along the way, others were coming from other engagements. My friend Alydia led a thanksgiving service in which we anointed participants with oil and had a moment of silence for Jack Layton and others who passed away. It was important for me to honour those survivors who died from cancer.

The setting was idyllic in lush and beautiful High Park. So much wind meant that the table covers needed to be tied down and that the burners under the aluminum heating tray were barely flame-worthy, so the hotdogs went uncooked and the burgers were barely warm. Since there were twenty of us, we had lots of food leftover and plenty to pick from including several vegan options like quinoa salads from Mylene and Agnes, avocado pie brought by Denise, and my specialties red velvet and carrot cake cupcakes, Bajan macaroni bake, Mixed Fruit Cobbler, and my newest invention (caused by error and reinvention) Jamaican beef patty pie. (Vegan of course.) I was so busy cooking and I ate them so fast that unfortunately I didn't get too many photos.

At the end of the event, as I cleaned up, I felt sad. It felt like "the end of summer" and it was sad to see my friends go. My fiancé and I packed everything back into the car. Interestingly, a father and baby walked towards us from the picnic table further down. Although, I booked site 19 for the ICanSurvive picnic since the numbers were lower than expected, and my event was almost finished, I said it was okay that the family could use the tables there. The family was there to celebrate the baby's first birthday. Since I had a big blue ball that was intended for children who might show at my picnic, I gave it to the boy since he was eyeing it with interest. (He was so happy.) A few minutes later, toddling unsteadily with his father, they presented a huge slice of chocolate birthday cake to me. I thanked them and my fiancé ate most of it (although we were already full from the potluck.)

Here is a poem that I wrote about this event. The original version contained names in the brackets but I took those out.

Thanks for
"A Tale of two quinoas",
East Coast representation,
Dogs that love squirrels,
Wedding dates,
Desserts galore,
Saved by the Perrier,
Sisterly love,
Blessings and frostings,
Lots of love and positive vibes,
Manitoban mavens
Vamps of Vegan
and Sexy Survivors.

I know it doesn't rhyme.

If you were unable to attend the ICanSurvive Picnic or like the work of Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC), I encourage you to support by making a donation. Young Adult Cancer Canada is the foremost organization which represents the small young adult cancer demographic. Young adult cancers are the most underfunded. Young adult cancers are often diagnosed later which often increases the chances of serious health risks and death. Young adults with cancer often experience isolation are dealing with a serious illness or possibly death, as well as other issues like infertility and lack of income in the "prime of their lives".

Although, I originally planned to host an event at a local jazz club to raise money for YACC months ago, I realized that this was too large an undertaking at the time. I was simply not well or full of energy enough to plan such an event so I cancelled my booking. Although the ICanSurvive picnic was quite a different undertaking altogether, my guests and I raised $ 120.

Thank you everyone for helping out for a great cause.

Here are some photo highlights of the day. Thanks Mylene for a lot of great shots.

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