Using Public Lands to Treat Cancer in Jackson Hole

Bad news: In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States; 609,640 people will die from the disease.

Good news: The chances of surviving cancer are greater today than ever before. In fact, people are now twice as likely to live at least 10 years after being diagnosed than they were 35 years ago.

But what if you get cancer and want to do more than survive? What if you want to thrive?

Three national organizations were in Jackson Hole in the past few weeks, trying to answer that question with a simple remedy: get outside.

Their approach is the reason they’ll be honored as SHIFT Award Official Selections at this year’s Festival, which makes the critical connection between time outside on our public lands and waters and the health and wellbeing of all Americans.

“The growing disconnect from nature not only adds billions of dollars to health care costs,” said Christian Beckwith, SHIFTs Director. “It simultaneously undermines the value of our public lands in society at large.”

“Public health is the last ecosystem service to be explored. This year’s SHIFT will explore it.”

From August 10 – 12, Casting for Recovery, which provides free fly fishing retreats for women with breast cancer, and Boarding 4 Breast Cancer, which advocates for early detection and a healthy, active, and sustainable lifestyle as the best means for breast cancer prevention, teamed up for a collaborative retreat program in Dubois, WY at the 3 Spear Ranch.

The retreat served 10 women, age 40 and under, with breast cancer.

From August 25 – 31, First Descents—a national organization that provides adventure experiences for young adult cancer patients and survivors between the age of 18 and 39—partnered with Rendezvous River Sports to prep 13 participants with basic paddling skills on Slide Lake before progressing to the Snake River Canyon. A second program is planned for September 2 -8.

Organizers of both events spoke to the power of nature to heal.

“The river doesn’t go easier on you because you have cancer,” says Becca Rohrer, First Descents’ Senior Marketing Manager. “Conquering class three rapids reminds participants what they are capable of even after going through chemotherapy and the other hardships that cancer brings.

“The river is an incredible metaphor for the journey ahead as a survivor.”

The power that nature provides is awesome and healing,” agreed Casting for Recovery’s Marketing Director Lise Lozelle. “Somehow nature holds secrets without judgment.”

This year’s SHIFT, which takes place Oct. 16-18, focuses on the health benefits of time outside. As part of the program, organizers researched more than 300 initiatives from around the country that combined outdoor recreation, conservation and public health before doing deeper evaluations of more than 150 organizations.

Boarding for Breast Cancer, Casting for Recovery, and First Descents were all selected as SHIFT Award Official Selections for reasons embodied by their recent visits to the community.

In October, they, along with more than 35 other outdoor recreation, conservation, land management and health care initiatives, will take center stage at SHIFT, which will feature the innovators and thought leaders at the forefront of the “Outside Rx” movement.

The 2018 SHIFT Festival runs from October 16-18 in Jackson, WY. More than 400 outdoor recreationists, health providers, conservation advocates and land managers are expected to attend.

“Around the country, natural allies in outdoor recreation, conservation, land management and health care are collaborating to advance and promote the health benefits of time outside,” said Beckwith. “When we begin to look at nature as a public health resource, we see the full value it brings to society.”

“That, in turn, increases the argument for its protection.”

“At a time when the average American child spends seven hours per day in front of screens and seven minutes in unstructured play outside, and diseases such as obesity, diabetes and mental anxiety are chronic, the connection between public lands and public health has never been more important to make.”

“We’re excited to showcase organizations such as Casting for Recovery, Boarding for Breast Cancer and First Descents at this year’s SHIFT.”

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