“There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.”
– Kurt Hahn, Founder of Outward Bound
One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Everyone knows someone who has had it. Although breast cancer is potentially deadly, many people now survive thanks to an aggressive combination of surgery, radiation, and medical therapy. People live through the disease…for a long time, too.
Fighting breast cancer leaves mental, physical, and emotional scars that touch all aspects of life. During treatment, the struggles are obvious. After treatment, however, everyone thinks that you get to go back to “normal.” “Normal” after cancer does not exist. Instead, life becomes a continuous process of accepting and managing the side effects resulting from treatment – weight gain, chronic pain, numbness, fatigue – even many, many years later. In addition, a wide variety of emotions and thoughts stand in the way of returning to a life in which survivors are able to thrive. “My cancer might come back.”, “I’ve lost control over my life.”, “I’m damaged.”, “My body isn’t what it used to be.” These thoughts, fears, and insecurities create a mindset in which just making it through each day is a relief. You feel vulnerable, faulty. These limitations can consume you, or, like the Phoenix, you can emerge from the flames of adversity transformed, stronger, and better.
As a Surgical Oncologist, Dr. Kelly McLean has treated many patients with breast cancer. While most patients no longer have evidence of breast cancer, she has seen many still struggle to move beyond simply surviving the disease that brought them to her. As a lifetime lover of outdoor adventure, she appreciates the many physical and mental benefits to be gained from exploring nature. Dr. McLean believed that her patients could recapture a thriving life by immersing themselves in the same type of outdoor adventures she has enjoyed. So, she did something about it.
Once in 2017 and again in 2018, Dr. McLean, in partnership with the North Carolina Outward Bound School, hosted a group of breast cancer survivors on a 5-day, 4-night backpacking and rock-climbing adventure in the Pisgah National Forest outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Through a variety of individual and group challenges created within the framework of this outdoor adventure, the trip equipped these survivors with tools helpful in overcoming the various challenges they were facing after their treatment had concluded. Inspired by the tremendous feedback from the original participants, Move Beyond Surviving was created as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization to offer this opportunity to other breast cancer survivors.
Mission Statement – Empowering breast cancer survivors to move beyond surviving to live a life in which they thrive.
Purpose Statement – Move Beyond Surviving is dedicated to empowering breast cancer survivors to overcome the emotional, physical, and mental impact resulting from their disease by physically challenging themselves in nature. Engaging in outdoor adventures can profoundly affect a survivor’s ability to live a life in which they thrive.
Nature is a source of physical, mental and emotional healing and strength. Participating in challenging outdoor adventures enhance these benefits. Pushing our boundaries by trying new activities and exerting ourselves builds confidence and connects mind, body, and spirit.
In addition to the longer Outward Bound experience, we offer breast cancer survivors half day, full day, and overnight adventures in the Greater Cincinnati region. These outings are facilitated by experts trained in experiential learning and wilderness survival to ensure a fun, fulfilling and rewarding experience.
Move Beyond Surviving seeks to provide a safe and supportive environment in which to regain a feeling of power over life. Disconnect from the world, in order to reconnect with yourself. Kayak, rock-climb, backpack. Spend a week in the woods. Explore your capabilities and challenge your limits surrounded by other survivors of breast cancer. Move Beyond Surviving…Thrive!
Dr. Kelly McLean, President
We are associated with the Miami University Outdoor Pursuit Center.
Our multi-day experiences will be facilitated by North Carolina Outward Bound School