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Artist Statement: “This word cloud represents Next Step’s recipe for community – all the ingredients needed to create the safest, funnest, and best space where we can share our stories, reach out & help each other, and dare to dream.”

Six years ago I was introduced to Next Step and their free residential Summer Campference program. In all honesty, it was overwhelming, but in the best way possible. I went from being alone and set in my own unhealthy ways of coping and thinking, to being surrounded by people who understood everything I was feeling and had experienced. No more explaining, no more having to beat around the bush when it came to my medical history – it all became easier when I entered the Next Step community.

Dealing with cancer, there’s a “similar” prognosis – chemo, surgery, radiation, losing your hair, 23 hours of sleep a day, more chemo, more sleep, grow more hair, and lose that hair, another surgery. It’s rare to hear a fellow Next Step participant share a personal struggle that we haven’t all shared or encountered ourselves – and it hurts. But in this community when someone is going through something you have no control over, the first instinct is to help them find a way, together.


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