Auntie Says: Reflecting back on 2018

As I look back on 2018 I’m amazed at the changes, strength and tenacity I’ve witnessed

As I look back on 2018, I’m amazed at the changes, strength and tenacity I’ve witnessed around me.

It’s been a year of survival and growth. Sometimes, everything can seem so negative — particularly with the current political climate — so I wanted to share some good stuff, it reminds me to stay grounded.

In 2018, the handsome young man Wills Hodgkinson threw down the gauntlet and fought cancer. While he still has a ways to go, he’s home and convalescing for now. What I love about Wills is his willingness to share his beautiful smile. He probably doesn’t even know how the light of his huge grin not only fills his face but also radiates from his eyes. It draws me into his positive aura and reminds me that no matter how bad things get, they can get better too. He’s full of strength and I admire the fighter and survivor spirit within him.

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Another survivor I know is my friend who’s in her mid-40’s. One afternoon, two years ago this December, she coughed so hard that she ruptured the internal lining of her carotid artery and had a stroke that required angioplasty to remove the clot blocking blood from getting to her brain. A stent was placed to seal the rupture. She came very close to death. With medical intervention, and perhaps some devine intervention too, she’s made a complete recovery and wants all to know that strokes can happen at any age.

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Like Wills, she still has a lot of life to live and our world is a much better place with both of them in it.

Another survival story came on Oct. 17 when cannabis became legal across Canada. There was no overnight revolution or social upheaval. The masses didn’t quit their jobs and all go smoke the day away — life went on as normal — we survived.

Let’s not forget the local YES Project that supports youth (aged 12-24) with wide-ranging issues like mental health, primary medical care, substance use, peer support, and social services. This program is all about Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) and finding ways to assist and empower young people to make decisions that support healthy living.

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When I think back to when I was a teen, things seemed so much easier than they are today. I attended a huge high school on the coast and don’t remember having to deal with suicide amongst my peers, cutting/self mutilation, or the prevalence of depression and anxiety that I know exists today. It’s a different world and programs like the YES Project can be literal life-savers. We need our youth to learn to be strong and find ways to survive the tough times.

The program is trying to bring all resources together under one roof and needs to renovate the space. A current fundraising campaign took on a new twist in that all donations made to the non-profit organization by Dec. 31, 2018 will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. Perhaps an investment in tomorrow’s leaders is what we all need to look toward — I just did. Check out www.pentictonyouth.ca.

It is the time of season for giving. Whether dropping your spare change into the kettles outside the stores, donating to the YES Project, giving to the Cancer, or Heart and Stroke Society in the name of someone special, or inviting a neighbour to Christmas dinner, it all counts.

And, if you don’t think you have anything to give, think of Wills and that smile that he shares so freely.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com or www.fayeearcand.com.

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