Camp Koru: More Than I Could Ever Imagine

By Becky White

I am a fiercely-independent single mother of three very active school-aged children.

Four years ago, at 37 years old, I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer (December 2011) and in January 2012, discovered I am a BRCA1 carrier. Following my initial lumpectomy, I found out that the cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes, which meant I would need chemotherapy and prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, or a preventative mastectomy.

Unfortunately, one year later, the cancer spread to my bones and liver, changing my diagnosis to metastatic breast cancer, or stage IV. Metastatic cancer means that I will be on some kind of cancer treatment (mostly chemotherapies) for the remainder of my life. It sounds bleak, but I looked at this situation as a challenge and was determined to live past the statistics (average 2-3 year survival rate), and push myself to try new things.

That’s where Athletes 4 Cancer came into my life.
Becky White Quote
I had already run a 5k with my daughter, completed a mud obstacle course and hiked into the Grand Canyon. Learning to surf had never crossed my mind, but I have always loved watching surfers. A woman in my cancer support group had just returned from a similar camp. Hearing her energy and enthusiasm, I immediately applied for Camp Koru surf camp. Not only was I going to learn how to surf, but I was going to meet other people surviving cancer! I was excited and ready to jump in feet first!

Camp Koru was more than I could have ever imagined. In one week, I learned to surf, I made amazing friendships and worked with dedicated staff and volunteers! It was a time to relax and challenge myself—challenge my determination and will. We were there at that moment to challenge ourselves and support those who were going through the same situation.

I came home with a sense of hope, a sense of community or “Ohana” (meaning family) and a sense of pride.

Athletes 4 Cancer created a life-altering experience for me by fostering community and safe space to bond over a challenging and fun activity—surfing! I am still connected to Athletes 4 Cancer and the other campers and have created a strong, supportive network.

Athletes 4 Cancer is a vital organization to those who are living with cancer.

Advertisements

A4C’s Funding Goes Straight to Our Mission

By: Tonia Farman

A few weeks ago, the Federal Trade Commission, all 50 states and the District of Columbia accused four cancer charities of scamming donors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. It saddened us to see the generosity of donors abused and the field of cancer nonprofits smudged. It angered us to see survivorship mocked by the very existence of these scams. That’s why we just want to take this opportunity to say: Athletes 4 Cancer (A4C) is an authentic and full-time nonprofit serving cancer survivors every day, making real, positive change in their lives.

We know every scar, every strand of hair loss to chemo, every sharp, shooting pain and every tear among our campers is real, and we would never take advantage of that. All of the funds raised for A4C goes straight to our mission of helping young cancer survivors reclaim their lives after cancer through outdoor adventures. HopeTransparency builds trust, and we want every one of our donors to know that their donations give energy, love and new life to many survivors who are at a tough place in their life. Here’s what your dollars have done through Athletes 4 Cancer since it’s beginning:

  • 306 cancer survivors directly-served, having learned life-transforming techniques to move forward after cancer
  • 1530 friends and family of survivors served through our Circle of Influence impact, in which the lives of those closest to our cancer survivors have been positively impacted by the services we provide
  • 18 outdoor retreats & ambassador connector events
  • Achieved through 1 full-time employee, 2 part-time employees and a volunteer staff of 75

But “results” can’t always be so tangibly measured. Sometimes, it’s the beauty of transformation that reflects the real impact of donations. A4C campers’ testimonials express that transformation.

“Camp Koru changed my life. Only a year out from treatments I didn’t realize how broken I was. The last thing I wanted to do was be with a group of cancerites. Little did I know the best thing I ever did was be with a group of cancerites! I felt like it was ok to be my true self, a side I hadn’t shown in years. The staff and other campers truly helped the transformation from cancer victim to cancer survivor.” –Kiko “Camp Koru…it’s good for the Soul.” –Vida “Camp Koru is the most positive thing that could have ever happened to me. The lessons I learned far exceeded how to surf and paddle. It taught me my strength both physically and mentally. It allowed me to form an amazing bond with others around the world who get it. I learned to get busy living! Koru energized my mind, body and soul. I gained more than just friends, I gained a family, memories and the knowledge that although I had cancer, it doesn’t have me.” –Dragon   

These are the stories that hit home, that show A4C is using our funding (responsibly!) to change lives. We’ll keep sharing them with donors so they know how their dollars help young cancer survivors. If you’re interested in sending a survivor to Camp Koru, check out our Alive365! Campaign or email us at survivorship@athletes4cancer.org.

Green Team kites for the cause of cancer

Fundraising Green Team say they are addicted to kiting. That's a good thing!
Fundraising Green Team say they are addicted to kiting. That’s a good thing!

“Here’s a picture of all of our kites that we used on our last vacation kiteboarding in Maui.  We named our KB4C team ‘The Green Team’ because everyone on our team loves nature and enjoys outdoor activities. Taking care of the environment is important to us. We have been addicted to it since our first lesson! We are from Colorado and Florida,” wrote Brad and Mary Thompson.

 

 

The kiteboarding GREEN TEAM rocked today’s Kiteboarding 4 Cancer  today. They had a rider on a hydrofoil board – not an easy board for a six hour ride. They helped raise money to support our programs that help young adults with cancer.

What a way to ride

 

“An experience on Mt. Hood during Camp Koru turned my world around.”

Samantha and the Mountains

“When I look out across the Willamette Valley and see the those little white triangles peaking over the hills, my heart skips a beat. My soul is connected to them. An experience on Mt. Hood during Camp Koru turned my world around.

Samantha finds solace in nature“I have learned that it is not the mountain I must conquer, but myself and I continue to look to the mountains for healing. Everyone has their own mountain to conquer. Mine just happened to be cancer” – surfboard artist Samantha Newton.

Her board will be auctioned off at Boards of Hope in a little bit – at 6:30 pm here at KB4c.

Voices from camp – how did A4C camp change your life?

Our survivors left Camp1 in Maui reflecting on a week of surfing, paddling, and taking on some challenges with their peers that they faced on and off the water. Facing the ocean was at times similar to facing their cancers. Here is what campers had to say after camp…

“Camp was the experience I needed after cancer. It was a way to be on even levels with people that share the same struggles/experience in life and be able to just have fun and not be the outcast in certain situations. ” ~ Lakeshow

“You and the leadership team asked us what this trip meant to us, how it had affected us, and what we were taking away from it.   My answer was true and from the heart, I had a blast, I learned so much and over came some serious frustration of stand up paddling.   Looking back now, I can see how much more Maui meant to me.   There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about the people, the events, and the experience of it all.  When I come face-to-face with an obstacles at work, or in life, I feel I reflect back on my experience with cancer and my experience in Maui.  The tenacity and follow through that myself and the entire group showed in Maui gets me through those obstacles at work and in life.   Having Cancer has forever changed my life, at times, I feel very alone, as there are few people in my life whom know what it felt like, and how it still affects me.    What you have put together, “Athletes For Cancer” and the absolutely unforgettable trip to Hawaii, has given me an amazing group of friends.   A group that knows what it feels like to have gone through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. There was an unspoken bond, even when nothing is said, everyone knows the experiences and situations.    Ive spent more time with these people then any organization or event I have ever done in relation to cancer awareness.  ” ~ Pazooki

“I just wanted to thank you for such an amazing week. The opportunity of a lifetime that completely transformed my outlook.”

“Finally I owe you and the rest of the team a HUGE thank you! [Another survivor friend] came to pick me up at the airport and we had a great talk about how camp was a life changing experience.  We both agreed while other camps have played a role in our lives last week’s camp has inspired both of us to travel more, try new different things, and overall do more things for ourselves because life is too short.  We agreed the camp was great at challenging people and taking everyone out of their comfort zone so they could grow and gain confidence.” ~ Bologna

“I had my second interview today for a job and sitting there it hit me how much Athletes for Cancer and the Maui camp changed my life. I was able to tell them about the amazing experience and how excited I was to be able to help people as well.  I MISS PADDLEBOARDING LIKE NO OTHER!!!!!!” ~ Seafoam

 

Athletes 4 Cancer offers young adult survivors the experiences of a lifetime with kite, SUP, and surf camps.


Athletes 4 Cancer & Kiteboard 4 Cancer
announces camps for young adult cancer survivors — ages 18-40. Donor funds from our 2010 fundraiser will fuel these camps, designed to empower young adults to face new challenges, overcome fears and obstacles, and embrace life after cancer so they can get to living!!  Interested in getting involved in these camps as a volunteer or would you like to attend? Sweet! Read on…


Our first round of camps is set on the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii in April:

Surf & SUP: April 8-14

Summer camps in Hood River, Oregon:

Kiteboarding: August 18-24
Surf & SUP: August 26-Sept. 1

If you are a cancer survivor and looking for the adventure and thrill of a lifetime, these camps are for you.  It is important to know that surfing, standup paddling, and kiteboarding are water-intense action sports with frequent impact on the water. Safety is our top priority. A sense of adventure but good common sense is required. 🙂

Food, accommodations, transportation, and camp instruction is all included in the camp. You only need to cover the airfare to get to camp.  The John Wayne Cancer Foundation and the many athletes and donors have made these camps possible. For more info on camps, check out our website or email Athletes 4 Cancer director, Tonia Farman: tfarman(at) gmail.com.

All cancer survivors looking to attend must fill out an app here.  All applicants must also have their doctor complete and submit this medical form prior to acceptance into the camp.

Looking to volunteer? Please fill out our volunteer application online here. We need cooks, photographers, counselors, and logistics peeps.

Like to become a sponsor or donate something to the camp such as food, activities, experiences, swag, or any other service that might be helpful? Email Program Director, Tonia Farman: tonia(at)kb4c.org.

Or, if you would like to donate to send a survivor to camp? Donate via our website.

Kiteboarding 4 Cancer and JWCF give 2010 funds to Hood River’s Nuestra Comunidad Sana

Kiteboarding 4 Cancer and John Wayne Cancer Foundation gave The Next Door $21,000 today for their breast cancer outreach program, Nuestra Comunidad Sana. The 2010 Kiteboarding 4 Cancer athletes raised $73,000 for various cancer programs in the northwest, $42,000 of which were matched by the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. Kiteboarding 4 Cancer chose Nuestra Comunidad Sana for its impactful grass-roots prevention program in the Columbia Gorge community.


The purpose of Nuestras Comunidad Sana/Our Healthy Community is to comprehensively address the need to increase the survival rate of women with breast cancer for rural, low-income, under-served women in the Mid-Columbia region (central border area between Oregon and Washington) and provide needed support to women being screened for breast cancer and improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

For the past several years, NCS’ Health Promoters have been successful in overcoming gender, social and cultural barriers to promote breast health among Latino community members. In order to continue to be agents of change in the Mid-Columbia region, the need to raise breast health awareness and provide outreach is essential for its community members. It is important that all women receive regular screenings and that all men and women accept breast health as an entitlement!

The uniqueness of the program comes from the use of Health Promoters, community residents who are specifically trained by an NCS Lead Health Promoter to reach their community with the program’s message.  This combination of health education and leadership development has been the foundation of all NCS programs and has been directly responsible for not only NCS’ ability to reach thousands of people each year but also with helping to sustain the program over the past nine years.  No matter how funding support to NCS ebbs and flows, there remains a cadre of trained and dedicated community health promoters who continue to lead the effort to educate, support and advocate for their neighbors.

The NCS program has four main activity areas:

1)     General outreach through radio Public Service Announcements, Mothers Day and Fathers Day mammogram reminder cards and general large scale outreach to big groups about the importance of early detection—our annual target is usually around 3,000 people

2)     One-on-one outreach to women and men at work, in their homes, in church, at health fairs—through presentations or just talking one-on-one to 400 men and 400 women.

3)     Screening assistance—teaching how to do self-exams, helping people get clinical breast exams and mammograms (transportation, childcare, interpretation, translation of results and any follow-up) for 100 women (we assist some English speaking women with this as well).

4)     Breast cancer survivor support group meeting monthly for 5-8 women.

For more information on Nuestras Mujeres Sanas, check out their website, http://nextdoorinc.org/.