Survive & Thrive: Providing Adventure Therapy for Young Adult Cancer Survivors

Many of the support services for cancer patients these days are geared towards two segments of the patient population – children and seniors. For those who are living with cancer in their late teens, 20’s and 30’s, it’s slightly more challenging to find supportive care programs that meet their needs. Luckily there’s a Canadian organization that focuses on this middle demographic by providing adventure therapy for young adults with cancer.

Survive & Thrive Expeditions, based in Alberta, is dedicated to combining travel, adventure and in-depth reflection and exploration of the cancer journey into one unique life changing experience. These trips are designed for those touched by cancer to reflect, refocus and rebuild their lives.

Survive & Thrive began with the personal cancer journey of the program’s founder, Mike Lang. After his diagnosis with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 3 in 2008, and subsequent treatment, Lang realized that, in order to heal, he needed to use his experience to make a positive impact on others. He and his wife, Bonnie, came up with the idea of organizing adventure therapy expeditions – kayaking, sailing, and white-water rafting trips down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon – as well as retreats and support group events with young adult cancer survivors.

“Young adults diagnosed with cancer have distinct issues,” says Andrea Docherty, Director of the Regional Cancer Care program at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC). “They’re at an age when they’re making major life decisions related to family, careers and finances and they have unique requirements for psychosocial support that are not often addressed in traditional supportive care programs.”

According to research by Young Adult Cancer Canada, over 7,000 young adults, between the ages of 15 and 29, are diagnosed in Canada each year.

The Survive & Thrive Expedition has a local connection. Dr. Scott Sellick, Director of Supportive, Palliative Care and Telemedicine Services at TBRHSC is participating in this year’s mid-Canada offering of a Survive & Thrive Expedition, which will start in Rossport, Ontario and travel west through the northwestern portion of Lake Superior’s island archipelago.

To learn more about the Survive & Thrive Expeditions please visit