The Dark Side of Inspiring Work & The Launch of our ReFresh Experience

Terri Wingham is the founder and CEO of A Fresh Chapter, a non-profit whose mission is to heal the emotional scars of cancer through volunteerism, meaningful travel, and programs designed to reframe adversity and redefine what is possible.

Written by Terri Wingham | August 5, 2017
The Dark Side Of This Audacious Dream

The losses are a relentless and battering wind. Cold. Bristling. Surging without warning. It could be an email that pops into the middle of my work day or a status update that blindsides me on Facebook. Suddenly, I am choking on sadness. Anger. Powerlessness. I grapple with this kaleidoscope of emotions and just have them neatly packed away when I hear from another friend. More bad news as cancer progresses and steals her stamina, her ability to concentrate, and her strength to get out of bed.

Nobody warned me about the dark side of this audacious dream. 

In many ways, the idea for A Fresh Chapter’s ReFresh For Cancer Advocates Experience  began as a lifeline for me. I needed to know I’m not alone walking this tightrope – swaying between feeling inspired, motivated, and fulfilled and the heavy weight of grief – an unwelcome byproduct of the cancer world. Who do you call when you feel like you can’t possibly get through a full afternoon of conference calls because a participant – turned friend – or a fellow leader or twitter compatriot has died. Where do you take that grief? How do you not swallow it, shove it down or decide to walk away from the industry (and its inevitable sadness) entirely? 

I recently came across this quote: “That broken thing you keep trying to put back together can’t even compare with the beautiful thing waiting to be built.” 

The Next Chapter: ReFresh For Cancer Advocates Experience

Over the last year, I have reached out to friends and counterparts across the industry and through our conversations have learned that I’m not alone. A vacuum exists when it comes to supporting cancer leaders, advocates, and volunteers. Not only do we deal with the “normal” stresses of managing, volunteering for, or growing causes and organizations, but we also face death and loss on a frequent, if not weekly, basis. We need to build a community where we can safely talk about burnout and loss, while also finding opportunities to stay open to new possibilities, connections, and experiences.

Thanks to the input of people across the industry and the tireless efforts of our volunteers, board members, and team, A Fresh Chapter will launch a new program on Monday in San Francisco. More importantly, we will launch a conversation and a community where we can give voice to the challenges we face as leaders, advocates, and volunteers. Our ReFresh for Cancer Advocates Experience will customize A Fresh Chapter’s proven model of volunteering, travel, leadership development, and psychosocial support – specifically for the advocacy community. We will provide a unique networking experience as well as a forum for building stronger partnerships and growing the cancer advocacy movement. ReFresh will serve as a building block for future programs, ongoing collaboration, and a more comprehensive approach to addressing burnout and fostering emerging leaders across our industry. To learn more, click here. 

We would love you to be part of it. If you are a leader or advocate and want to join the program virtually, you can request membership to our ReFresh LinkedIn Group here. Or connect with us on social media: Linked InTwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

If you, or someone you know, has been impacted by cancer and you’re looking for an opportunity to expand your story, explore our programs and apply today. We are now accepting rolling applications for our Odyssey programs in South Africa, Peru, Costa Rica, and India. Join us as we #explorelifebeyondcancer.  

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