Above + Beyond Cancer, a Des Moines-based non-profit, was planning on taking a group of caregivers and cancer survivors to Nepal. Then, the earthquake hit. Dr. Richard Deming, founder of the group, says that changed everything.
"Prior to the earthquake, we had announced that we were going to do a more traditional Above + Beyond Cancer journey, which was going to be a transformational mind-body-spirit journey to Tibet, where we were going to take a group of cancer survivors and we were going to circumambulate the most sacred mountain in the world, and then the earth quake happened in the Himalayas that affected Tibet and especially Nepal."
So their trip became more than just a reflective trek. From September 9th to September 16th, the group of 10 cancer survivors and 9 caregivers worked in and around the Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital outside of Kathmandu. Above + Beyond has always had strong connections to Nepal, where the program started in 2011.
"It just became apparent that what we really needed to do was to go to Nepal in a medical mission that had cancer survivors from the United States actually reaching out with humanitarian aid with cancer survivors and patients in Nepal along with victims of the earthquake."
Deming says cancer survivors are particularly well-equipped to relate to and connect with patients in other countries because of what he calls 'post-traumatic growth.'
"They've learned about themselves and they have come through their cancer journey with courage and compassion and generosity for others. And this trip as a medical mission allowed those cancer survivors from the United States to use what they had learned and the generosity and compassion that they derived from their own cancer journey to actually reach out compassionately and help others, especially those in Nepal."
In this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with Deming and cancer survivor Holly Hanson about the trip.