My name is Shannon Heika and I am 25 years old. I was diagnosed with Leukemia and received a bone marrow transplant in 2014. After my transplant I developed something called graft versus host disease that has greatly affected my everyday life. Being 25 dealing with a lot of physical limitations that most other people my age do not understand can be hard at times. When I found out about Camp Koru in Maui I knew I had to apply.
If cancer has taught me anything it’s to push yourself and never say no to an adventure because life is short. November 2016 I packed my bags and boarded a plane to Maui, somewhere I have always dreamed of going. When I arrived at Camp Koru I found myself surrounded by people that instantly felt like family. I got to surf, paddleboard, snorkel, and sight see around the island. I was nervous my physical limitations would have me feeling left out but there was not one moment I felt alone or different at camp.
The whole week I was surrounded by people who helped and encouraged me. Whether it be carrying my surfboard to the beach or sitting on a bench and taking a break while walking around town, I was always supported by my fellow campers. I met so many amazing people at camp and made a few friends that I know I will keep in touch with forever. I feel so lucky to have experienced the magic of Camp Koru, I was so sad to come home. The nightly bonfires where we got to connect on such a deep level with one another are memories I will cherish forever.
I am so glad I went to Camp Koru and I highly recommend attending a cancer camp. I left feeling the best I had since my diagnosis. I made so many amazing memories with so many beautiful people. It was definitely a life changing experience.