DO SOMETHING!

I sometimes find myself tangled-up in my to do list. I can’t seem to get out of my own way. Even now…13 years after finishing radiation following brain surgery(s)…I get stuck in neutral.  Yes…this last sentence holds clues to some percentage of my problem. It is difficult to go through this sort of treatment regiment without some sort of brain damage.

All cancer treatments…all drugs…have side effects. Radiation and Chemotherapy are known to effect a brains’ ability to function at the highest of levels. We were not all dealt the same hand at the beginning of our life…and we are not playing with the same cards once we’ve been diagnosed. We do what we can. And with some effort…to the best of our abilities.

The transition from being newly diagnosed…then treated…then waiting to see a response…takes it’s toll. In these past 13 years I had plenty of ups and downs. Getting bogged down is a side effect of my life as a brain cancer survivor. So I take baby steps when necessary.

I have come up with a mantra of sorts. It’s kind of like mindful breathing. With my breathing…I can take a moment to slow down and breathe purposefully…feeling my body doing the simple task that we constantly take for granted. And why not? We’ve been doing it all our life…even before we knew we were alive.

But with consciousness comes added responsibility. As young adults we learn…it’s time to justify our existence…to make our own mark on the world. As cancer survivors…we don’t need to build anything for the world to come see…or win the Nobel Prize. We just need to do…what we need to do…to move forward.

DO SOMETHING!

DO SOMETHING MORE THAN NOTHING

DO SOMETHING TO GET MOVING

DO SOMETHING TO MOVE FORWARD

DO SOMETHING THAT ACHIEVES A TASK

DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL

DO SOMETHING CREATIVE

DO SOMETHING THAT YOU LIKE

DO SOMETHING THAT MOTIVATES YOU

DO SOMETHING THAT HELPS YOU

 DO SOMETHING THAT HELPS OTHERS

DO SOMETHING THAT INSPIRES YOU

DO SOMETHING THAT INSPIRES OTHERS

DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD

Don’t expect to manage all of these at once…but there are many possible combinations. Give it a try. Do something!

 

2017 Retreat Memories

Our 'Crew" Enjoying the great weather as we head out for Marymere Falls

Our ‘Crew” Enjoying the great weather as we head out for Marymere Falls

Great weather…old friends…new friends…and good times. Always a worthy weekend when we hold a Healing Adventure Retreat. This year was no exception.

Many thanks to all that came as participants…and to all of our ‘staff’….such a good vibe to hang out with all of you!

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We didn’t go anywhere…but we still traveled over some rough terrain…and managed to have a good time!

Here are some photos that captured a few moments of our weekend journey.

These images may not win any quality awards…but that’s mostly because of the SUNNY weather that we had during our SURVIVOR’S OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE.

Thanks to all that participated in bringing this together!

 

Getting ready to journey on Lake Crescent

Getting ready to journey on Lake Crescent

 

Coming back in to 'Port"

Coming back in to ‘Port”

2017 Healing Adventure Retreat Coming Soon! May 19-21

Hey Folks-

It’s time for the 2017  Healing Adventure Retreat May 19-21.

Survivor’s Outdoor Experience (SOE) presents the SIXTH “Healing Adventure” at the Olympic NatureBridge Campus May 19-21. We would like you to be our guest for this retreat created as a Family & Friends program! Participants will include individuals that have been diagnosed with cancer and a companion if they choose to be accompanied.

This program will bring a small group of participants together in a remarkable setting to enjoy a weekend that will be one to remember. The retreat features fascinating presentations, indoor and outdoor activities, good food and most of all, good times and memories.

Activities include:

  • Who is a Survivor  by Jack Ganster
  • Relating to Nature by John Gussman
  • Poetry in the Wild with Tim McNulty
  • From Surviving to Thriving  by Dr. Heath Foxlee
  • Now What? Navigating Forward by Dr. Stephen Parker
  • Healthy cooking with Julie Jacobson
  • The Companion’s Story with Kornelia Grabinska
  • Exercise is Good Medicine
  • Hiking and Canoeing with NatureBridge staff.

 

The Healing Adventure will be held at the beautiful  Olympic NatureBridge campus located on Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park. The retreat is designed to be a healing experience for all.

Survivor’s Outdoor Experience is a non-profit educational and recreational organization. This program was developed to provide cancer survivors of all ages an opportunity to learn about the benefits of living a healthy and active lifestyle.

The program provides a curriculum of informative presentations balanced with recreational activities. The goal is to assist participants in gaining strength, hope, and a sense of the future.

For more information about this free program go to survivorsoutdoorexperience.org, or contact Jack Ganster at 360-477-1619 or jhgisjack@yahoo.com                  *limited space available

Healing Adventure Retreat 2016

We had a great time…with new friends and old friends! Between learning, sharing, laughing, and crying…we had wonderful time.

So great being out on the water. Lake Crescent

So great being out on the water… Lake Crescent

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Marymere Falls as our hiking destination during our weekend journey

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Most of our crew as we enjoy the morning sun

 

 

 

THANKS to everyone who joined us!

 

 

 

 

 

And THANKS to John, Linda, Lynne, Kia, Heath for your presentations and the staff at NatureBridge!

 

 

A Great Way to celebrate our FIFTH Healing Adventure Retreat!

 

2016 Healing Adventure Retreat Coming Soon: May 20-22

   

Survivor’s Outdoor Experience (SOE) presents the FIFTH “Healing Adventure” at the Olympic NatureBridge Campus May 20-22. We would like you to be our guest for this retreat created as a Family & Friends program! Participants will include individuals that have been diagnosed with cancer and a companion of their choice.

This program will bring a small group of participants together in a remarkable setting to enjoy a weekend that will be one to remember. The retreat features fascinating presentations, indoor and outdoor activities, good food and most of all, good times and memories.

Activities include:

  • Who is a Survivor  by Jack Ganster
  • Relating to Nature by John Gussman
  • From Surviving to Thriving  by Dr. Heath Foxlee
  • What’s The Altitude of your Attitude? by Linda Klinefelter
  • Healthy cooking with Kia Armstrong of Nash’s Organic Produce
  • Now What? The Path Forward  by Dr. Lynne Taylor
  • Exercise is Good Medicine
  • Hiking and Canoeing with NatureBridge staff

 

Wonderful time at the Wine Gala

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Our crew had a great time at the Olympic Medical Center Foundation Harvest of Hope Wine Gala last Saturday…10/24/15.                                                              Proceeds from this event are dedicated to services, programs, and equipment for local cancer patients.                                                                                           It was a fun evening and I was honored to be this years guest speaker.

A great event for a great cause!

 

Wonderful Healing Adventure Retreat 2015

We had such a wonderful Healing Experience at NatureBridge along beautiful Lake Crescent!

P1020112 (800x600)  Wow…our group had such a great time…check out the smiles!

Our participants were treated to amazing presentations during a  weekend of sunshine and sharing.

Special thanks to our presenters: Lynne Taylor, Heath Foxlee, Tim McNulty, Pat Mortati, Kia Armstrong, and Katheryn Cooper for bringing us stimulating presentations. Thanks also to the NatureBridge staff for being so willing to accommodate us with our needs and lead us on our outings.

 

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Here are a few comments from our participants:

Thank you so much… I appreciate you doing this work. It was so rejuvenating for me, it felt like a re-boot to my life. I LOVED spending the time out in nature… and getting to know and spend time with several wonderful new people!  Harmony P.

It was a wonderful weekend, a truly wonderful weekend.  What a gift you have given us, Jack.  Thank you.  I’ll never forget that canoe ride on Sunday morning.  It was magic.  And I can’t wait for next year. Beth H.

Incredible…would be my word for the weekend. Thanks for an amazing experience! Teresa T.

I enjoyed the time there with you and the other folks, and the program and activities were excellent! Jennie C.

Thanks everyone…for a truly memorable time!

 

 

 

 

Healing Adventure Retreat 2015

 

Activities include:

  • Who is a Survivor  by Jack Ganster
  • Relating to Nature…A Journal of our Experience by Tim McNulty
  • From Surviving to Thriving  by Dr. Heath Foxlee
  • Healthy cooking with Kia Armstrong of Nash’s Organic Produce
  • Mindful Breathing & Relaxation with Pat Mortati
  • Exercise is Good Medicine with Kathryn Cooper
  • Live music with Local Favorites Barry & Mick

For more information about this free program go to survivorsoutdoorexperience.org, or contact Jack Ganster at 360-477-1619 or jhgisjack@yahoo.com

 

Our 2014 Healing Adventure Retreat

The SOE 'symbolic tree'. The fire represents cancer and the still living tree is like the person still standing despite the fire.

The SOE ‘symbolic tree’. The fire represents cancer and the still living tree is like the person still standing despite the fire.

Our mini 'paddle journey on Lake Crescent

Our mini ‘paddle journey’ on Lake Crescent

We had a grand time at the Survivor’s Outdoor Experience Healing Adventure Retreat! Just take a look at these photos…and you will get the idea. What a pleasure to host a great group of survivors with the help of some fantastic presenters: Heath Foxlee, Linda Klinefelter, Bill Berger, Christine Jacobson, Mary Robson and Kia Armstrong. We also want to thank Twisted Roots for their fantastic music and the staff at NatureBridge, including KC Nattinger. They did a great job of making us feel welcome.

Our Hike to Marymere Falls

Our Hike to Marymere Falls

The 'Gang" Sunday morning before our hike

The ‘Gang” Sunday morning before our hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Cooking with Kia from Nash's Organic Produce — with Kia Armstrong.

Healthy Cooking with Kia from Nash’s Organic Produce — with Kia Armstrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus…sunny Lake Crescent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such a great time!

 

 

 

“SOE gave us a memorable,  helpful,  and enjoyable retreat.  The combination of perfect Lake Crescent scenery,
thought-provoking speakers,  and outdoor rambles on trails and the lake added up to much more than the individual parts.
All in all,  a grand experience.”

“Thanks for all the hard work putting things together.  It always takes some time to process such an experience, but I know I will take away some valuable ideas and experiences… and my perspective will surely be altered.”

“We were talking earlier today and we both agree that there was nothing negative about the time we were there. It was all good and positive, and we thank you and your terrific group of people who helped you pull it off.”

“Wow…what a treat! Getting together to share this weekend will remain as a highlight of my cancer ‘journey’.”

 

 

My 10 Year Journey

A Survivor’s Journey

As a person who has spent the last ten years willing to share my experience about life after diagnosis, it’s still difficult to simply say “I am a cancer survivor.”  So much goes into this statement.

It’s been an incredible journey and I have seen and experienced so much during this period in my life-a period that almost seemed out of reach.

At the time, I was strong and healthy, Lance Armstrong was still a hero, and the Livestrong Foundation was just gaining traction. Since then, I’ve attended a conference at their headquarters in Austin, Texas, started my own program (Survivor’s Outdoor Experience) and have witnessed Mr. Armstrong’s meteoric fall from grace.

As much as I deplore this man’s constant flippant denials and bully-style behavior, I can totally relate with him about how rewarding it is to help others through simply surviving against the odds-the most basic form of leading by example.

This is why share my story. It goes beyond this simple idea of outlasting the disease- I felt like I would, but I still feel like it’s a temporary victory. Even though it’s been ten years and multiple MRI exams later and all the evidence suggests that I should declare victory. …Continue Reading My 10 Year Journey

Amazing Healing Adventure Retreat

Wow! What a wonderful Healing Adventure Retreat! Our spring 2013 retreat exceeded expectations…great group of participants, engaging presentations, super setting, and beautiful weather to top it off!

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Such a wonderful experience with an amazing group!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments from participants:

 

 

 Group Paddle on Lake Crescent

Group Paddle on Lake Crescent

 

“I hope you feel really good about the outcome of this past weekend–personally, it was a really beneficial& rewarding experience! The exchange of information and camaraderie was valuable, encouraging and fun…and to score such glorious weather was a cherry on top!”

That just about sums it up for me. I had a wonderful time and Monday I felt so relaxed I had one of the best days I’ve had in months.Thanks again for your wonderful organization and the special retreat.”

“This was just great. It was such a gift for all involved. I came away renewed, rejuvenated and very inspired!”
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Skiing to celebrate my anniversary

When I moved to Port Angeles, Washington in 1991 I carried the memories of witnessing game two of the Stanley Cup Finals. This was the game that Mario Lemieux made the iconic goal against the Minnesota North Stars that changed the series, and lifted Mario in to legendary status with his performance. What we saw as impossible to achieve…he brought to reality via pure will and creativity.

In 1993 he was living his life as the hero and savior of Penguins Hockey after leading his team to back to back Stanley Cups Titles. He was having another strong year, crushing the scoring competition with his incredible play.

Then…he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease…Cancer. Although it is a less problematic type of cancer…with a five-year survival rate today of 81 percent…it is still cancer. With treatments that included radiation.

On March 2nd, 1993 Mario finished radiation and booked a charter flight in order to play that night in Philadelphia. He scored a goal and assisted on another. Amazing…

In November of 2003 I had a seizure to alert me to the fact that I had something inside my head that didn’t belong there, a brain tumor. With my confidence in the medical facilities in Pittsburgh and the support of my family, I chose to have surgery there.

After hearing ‘it’s worse than we thought’ in regards to the level of concern the tumor presented, I opted for an advised second surgery. Everything went well and I am thankful for the level of care that I received.

I received my radiation treatments when I returned home to Washington. As my treatments were wrapping up, I remembered Mario’s story and thought about the possibility of using it for motivation.

It was in that tradition that I chose to do… what I wish I did as well as Mario played hockey…ski. We typically have snow in June and I thought ‘why not?’.  With this inspiration I skied the afternoon of my last day of radiation with several friends…and had a blast.  On June 3rd I was able to ski on the 13th anniversary…a yearly tradition. (conditions permitting)

At the bottom of the run...Klahanie Ridge. It was like skiing inside a ping-pong ball...but hey...it was skiing.

At the bottom of the run…Klahanie Ridge. It was like skiing inside a ping-pong ball…but hey…it was skiing.

Mario went on to do all he could to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh as part owner and now they have the most successful team in the league.(Five Cups!) He also created the Mario Lemieux Foundation. He is now 22 years cancer free and devotes much of his time at the Foundation raising funds for to help reach the ultimate goal: a cure for cancer.

His approach to hand that he was dealt again motivated me. I have been a lifetime fan of using the natural world as my playground and sanctuary. I had years of experience in outdoor recreation and leading others to expand their appreciation of our natural world.

With this history I created Survivor’s Outdoor Experience. Our programming is directed towards the ultimate goal of giving participants strength, hope and a sense of the future.

It is a personal journey to fight this disease known as cancer and we all have our path. Mario used winning the scoring title as his motivation (he did win it) and I used getting back to normal as mine. With the inspiration of his story.

Thanks & Congrats, Mario.

This year I added a bonus day and went to Mt. Angeles on 6/4/17

Mount Angeles

Mount Angeles

 

 


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