After a year and a half of intense immunotherapy treatments with a clinical trial to treat melanoma, Tiffany Wolf was at the “end of her rope.” “I had had it with the pain, the fatigue, the …
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Float down the Colorado river with White Water Rafting LLC. Relax in the afternoon with a brewery tasting with multiple breweries at its boathouse.
• Rocky Mountain Brew Run for Epic Experience
Burly Brewing Co., Castle Rock
Social fun trail run at the beautiful Philip S Miller Park. This is a 4ish-mile fast and fun course with smooth non-technical terrain, rolling hills and views of the iconic Pikes Peak. Finish with an ice cold brew, grub from a local food truck and Beer Olympics games.
• Hearts and Hope Gala
Four Seasons Hotel Denver
Celebrate cancer-thrivers and raise money to send more adult-thrivers on a week with Epic Experience.
Email Epic Experience for other events for survivors and caregivers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a year and a half of intense immunotherapy treatments with a clinical trial to treat melanoma, Tiffany Wolf was at the “end of her rope.”
“I had had it with the pain, the fatigue, the nausea — the fact that I couldn’t be a mom, or at least the one I wanted to be,” Wolf, now 37, explained. “I couldn’t work and I love what I do. All of it.”
Wolf, who lives in Arvada, was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma at 22 years old. Seven years later, it returned. This time it had spread through her body. Treatment included chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy.
Then the clinical trial in 2014, which she said kicked her butt.
“The drug did its job,” Wolf said, “but the drug was trying to kill me.”
That’s when she was introduced to Epic Experience, a nonprofit outdoor adventure camp for adult cancer survivors.
Epic Experience was founded in 2012 by Arvada resident Nancy Ferro after her oldest son, Michael, was diagnosed first with a benign brain tumor in 2007 and six months later with testicular cancer just as he was graduating from Regis University.
“After his treatment, he got very depressed,” Nancy Ferro said. “I just saw a need to help survivors get out and feel like it’s OK to live, even though it felt different from the day they were diagnosed with cancer.”
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer patients often feel anxiety, fear and isolation.
Epic Experiences now holds about six to eight camps a year at a ranch three hours west of Denver for people 18 and older who have had a cancer diagnosis at any point in their lives.
In the summer, campers raft and kayak on the Colorado River, and in the winter snow shoeing and cross-country skiing are the main activities. Campers come from all over the country to attend the free camp.
“When you’re diagnosed with cancer, so much of what you go through is in a hospital or at home or rehab — you don’t get outside,” Ferro said. “There’s just something about nature that is soothing and revitalizes you.”
For Golden resident Kim McConnell, 40, some of the revitalization came from being with other people who were fighting their own cancer battles.
McConnell was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and is currently cancer-free.
“Very quickly the similarities of things that each other had gone through really connected us,” McConnell said. “Being young when I was diagnosed made me nervous about the cancer coming back. But being connected to Epic means that now I have this community of people that can support me. That gives me hope.”
That connection is a thread between campers.
“By the time camp was over, it feeds you with this newfound energy or zest for life almost,” Wolf said, adding that after camp, after a couple months of clean scans, she told her doctor she was done with treatments.
“I was ready for things to change so I could do more with my life,” she said.
Four years later, she shows no evidence of cancer. But Epic is still a big part of her life.
“The whole journey you feel very alone because no one else in your immediate circle has it,” Wolf said. “They are on the outside looking in, so they don’t get it. But at camp, they got it. That was a big deal to find a group like that.”
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