Partnership creates opportunity to get young adults with cancer on the wall

The InspireHealth Young Adults with Cancer crew reached new heights – physically and mentally – on the walls at The Boulders Climbing Gym.

InspireHealth, a supportive cancer care centre, offers free programs and services to support quality of life for people living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis. Power To Be partners with InspireHealth to bridge a gap in services for this group, providing free and fun opportunities for participants to try new things or maybe try old things with new and different abilities.

“After my surgery for breast cancer I assumed I wouldn’t climb again and this was a chance to test that out, and to find out that I can still climb!” said one participant of the experience.

While having cancer is difficult at whatever age you are diagnosed, the cancer experience for a young adult (18-39 years) provides unique challenges due to the stage of life they are in. Since this group is a minority (making up only 11 per cent of the cancer diagnosis population) the needs of young adults impacted by cancer can be overlooked when designing programs and services to support people living with cancer.

Creating classes and chances for socialization is integral for this population. As one participant shared, “These outings offer me a sense of community with other young people, who I don’t often see in the clinic or hospital. They help me know I’m not the only one going through this.”

The evening with Power To Be started by each person checking in with a time when they felt present. Being in nature emerged as a theme as people shared their mindful moments of: walking in the woods, looking at a flower, listening to the ocean, and even rock climbing. Fitting, as the power of connecting people with nature and community is at the heart of what Power To Be offers and is also integral in how InspireHealth supports patients to find opportunities for stress reduction.

As soon as we stepped into our harnesses and started climbing the encouragement and support was contagious, everyone working through some kind of challenge, whether physical or mental. After two hours of climbing, the evening wrapped up with a check-out, this time taking a moment to reflect on the experience. One person shared that they appreciated how these kinds of events “push me to do something that I thought I couldn’t do because of my cancer diagnosis. It feels amazing and gives me hope to go out and do stuff that I had stopped doing because of my diagnosis.”

Power To Be staff and volunteers were awesome, providing perspective on what accomplishment is – “The goal is not to get to the top of the wall, the goal is to climb,” said Em, a Power To Be program facilitator. Similar to a quote InspireHealth clinical counsellor Genevieve Stonebridge appreciates, “healing is a process, not an event.”

This guest blog was written by Emily Medd, an exercise therapist at InspireHealth and Genevieve Stonebridge, the team’s clinical counsellor. They are both passionate about recreation and having fun just for the health of it!

InspireHealth is so grateful to partner with Power To Be and we look forward to our next adventure with them! If you are a young adult (18-40 years) and have had cancer at some point in your life come join us. Contact InspireHealth Victoria for more details: 250-595-7125.