Contributing Author
Athletes 4 Cancer event

How Athletes 4 Cancer Tackles the Challenges of Surviving Cancer

Sunday is National Cancer Survivorship day.

Surviving cancer is certainly worthy of celebration. But, as Classy client Athletes 4 Cancer will tell you, the aftermath of cancer can be just as difficult as the disease itself.

For the last five years, Athletes 4 Cancer has helped young adult cancer survivors, age 18-39, reclaim their lives after cancer through outdoor adventure camps. More than 23 camps and 330 survivors later, they know that fighting and surviving cancer as a young adult has its unique challenges.

There’s this assumption that “you’re young and you got this,” says Athletes 4 Cancer Founder and Executive Director Tonia Farman. “And that assumption is a stigma that survivors carry with them. They don’t want to show this weakness, this ‘Wait a minute, I’m really struggling here. I just beat cancer, and I’m supposed to be really excited and thriving, but I’m really having a hard time. In fact, I’m feeling like this is a lot harder than the disease itself.’ And we hear that over and over again.

Athletes 4 Cancer recently set out to explain these challenges and how they help survivors address them in their latest infographic, “Common Myths of Surviving Cancer as a Young Adult.”


Athletes 4 Cancer Survivorship Infographic

Starting life anew after cancer isn’t easy, but Athletes 4 Cancer’s primary program, Camp Koru, helps young survivors kick-start this journey by inviting them to spend a week in nature and in community with other survivors, learning to surf, snowboard, ski, or stand-up paddle board.

For survivors, choosing a “power name” for their week can be catalyst for change. Here’s the powerful story of how “Dash” chose her name and how it inspired her week at Camp Koru.

It starts with the physical challenge, but it ends up being a mental and emotional challenge,” Farman said.

Athletes 4 Cancer celebrates their 10th anniversary of Kiteboard 4 Cancer this July, a kite derby race that involves more than 200 professional, semi-professional and amateur kiteboarders racing for six continuous hours in solidarity with survivors.

In 2011, Athletes 4 Cancer became an early adopter of Classy’s “Fundraise for Entry” feature. Instead of just engaging the existing donor database they had, Athletes 4 Cancer was able to extend their reach exponentially through peer-to-peer fundraising by harnessing the power of kiters’ networks to fundraise more money and bring awareness to addressing the realities of young adult cancer survivorship.

This year’s Kiteboard 4 Cancer theme is #NoWaitlist. The goal is to raise enough to completely eliminate their waitlist of 112 survivors and send each one to Camp Koru.

We’ve raised over half a million dollars on the Classy platform, which has allowed us to send more than 330 young survivors to camp. That’s incredible,” Farman said.

Check out the Athletes 4 Cancer’s Kiteboard 4 Cancer campaign here.

Tonia Farman is the Founder and Executive Director of Athletes 4 Cancer. The Athletes 4 Cancer Camp Koru program has impacted more than 330 young survivors through 23 outdoor camps and retreats. Tonia has won Self Magazine’s “Women Doing Good” Award and Critical Mass Service Award.

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