Camp gives adults with cancer new zest for life

Arvada-based nonprofit draws campers nationwide

Posted 8/21/18

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 …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution of $25 or more in Nov. 2018-2019, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access Includes access to all websites


Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Camp gives adults with cancer new zest for life

Arvada-based nonprofit draws campers nationwide

Posted

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.”

Comments

Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.