Interview by WSCR-NCORP Staff Member, Laura Gabbay
Cancer doesn’t stop affecting someone’s life when treatment ends. Survivors don’t always get to ring a bell and say “Adios” to the enemy that uprooted life as they knew it. The physical, mental, and emotional side effects often continue long after, forever changing relationships, hobbies, social life, work, and well-being. Epic Experience was founded to meet survivors in this sometimes lonely and hopeless place, to show them they are not alone; thus, the organization’s mission is to empower adult cancer survivors and thrivers to live beyond cancer. Today there are more than 2,000 individuals who are alumni of their programs. One of these is Kathy Trujillo who is a member of the Western States Cancer Research-NCORP Board of Trustees.
Epic Experience has been uplifting the lives of adult survivors since 2012 through our signature program of free week-long camps. What makes Epic Experience unique is the experience of adventure and activity through summer and winter sports combined with peer-to-peer relationships in a small, intimate setting on a ranch in the Colorado Rockies. One-Day programs, modeled after our camps, have also been added to augment our in-person programs. Although Covid-19 interrupted their 2020 schedule, Epic Experience is scheduling for the 2021 season.
In addition to in-person programs, three online programs were initiated to serve their community. The “Campfires of Hope” Living Beyond Cancer podcast series is aimed to provide information and resources for cancer survivors and caregivers, while navigating through the cancer journey.
The second program, “How to Cancer” YouTube series provides an a la carte menu of 3–5-minute educational snippets for the cancer community. Topics such as, “How to Talk to a Sibling about your Cancer,” “How to Talk about Loss,” “How to Talk about a Prosthetic,” and “What to Wear to a Cancer Appointment” are some of the subjects available.
Their third online program is Low Impact Training Classes, which are a combination of functional strength, stretching, balance, and low-intensity exercise. These are designed for those who want to improve their ﬁtness without being overwhelmed.
The ultimate success of Epic Experience’s mission is ultimately proven by the numerous testimonials which we receive from survivors who participate in their programs. Below is an example:
“I had no real expectation of what Epic Experience would be like, but I came away with a life change. My time at Epic rejuvenated my spirit, reminding me what life was like before cancer. I came away with a new sense of family as well as the knowledge that regardless of my health status, I am capable of conquering anything I put my mind to. Since returning from camp, I have re-initiated my dancing (I was an avid ballroom and social swing dancer), I have continued walking and hiking, and I was inspired to fulfill a lifelong dream—I wrote a book!” ~ Lynda, Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma thriver.
Western States Cancer Research NCORP is glad to collaborate with Epic Experience, as the two nonprofits explore the possibility of opening a research study, together with other NCORPs across the country, about the positive impact of physical fitness on cancer recovery. Cancer Survivorship is more than follow-up appointments, blood tests, and scans; it’s about living life to the fullest beyond cancer. To learn more about the extraordinary programs of Epic Experience, please visit their website here.