First Descents Testimonials

While they were as supportive as they could be, my family and friends could not be supporting of my dealing with cancer because they had no direct experience with it. They had no way to relate. Getting out to an FD program allowed me several things: a chance to get away from the BS in my regular life that was threatening my insanity and emotional integrity; it allowed me to experience an entirely beautiful setting that I’ve always wanted to but never previously had the opportunity to; but most importantly, it allowed me to network with other people of my own peer group who had first-hand experience of dealing with cancer, in all its stages, in dealing with the emotional and mental problems that come from trying to deal with it and moving into continuing life. THIS, above all, was the most beneficial, if also more underrated/practiced part of the program. This helped me the most. Thank you, FD, for that. – 2014 Alum

While I was sick and going through chemotherapy, I got used to staying home and being by myself. I grew to be much more introverted than before. But I used to be outgoing; I used to be adventurous; I used to be energetic. Somehow, through my sickness, I lost those aspects of myself. My week with FD truly rekindled the adventurous spirit I had before I got sick. I re-learned the resilience and strength of my own body. This experience restored a part of myself that I hadn’t even realized I’d lost, and I am incredibly grateful for that! Thanks FD! – 2014 Alum

I love first descents. Honestly in my opinion, I know this sounds crazy but, after my Fd1 and fd2 it was worth the 2 1/2 years  of chemo to survive just to experience FD. I’m so thankful for everyone and everything! – 2014 Alum

My FD experience was truly incredible. I accomplish something I would have never thought I would have done in a million years. Thanks to some awesome staff and guides, I was able to find my courage and face the challenge head on. It’s funny how the beginning of the week I was so scared and wasn’t sure how the rest of the week was going to go. But by the end of the week, I was having some much fun taking on the challenge of kayaking and so glad I did. This trip was the best decision I’ve made by far! – 2014 Alum

It’s hard to put a price tag on giving someone their hope, identity, or peace of mind back. But I can guarantee that whether you were able to donate a dollar, a million dollars, or anything in between, it’ll be the best money you ever spent.   – Fiddy

 

I would not be able to handle the cards that have been dealt without First Descents. – Lolli

 

In my week with you I both grew emotionally, physically and spiritually and learned so very much. It is hard to put it into words everything I feel. I was lucky to spend my time with people who understand me completely, are unconditionally kind, caring, giving and patient. One week where I had no worries, that in itself is so very priceless. I came into the house unsure and left stronger, wiser and able to understand the phrase, ‘Out Living It’ completely and wanting to continue to strive for that.  – Sweet Cheeks

 

I am constantly talking up FD to my doctors and nurses; everyone realizes the remarkable impact it has.  I’ll keep saying it, but regardless of cancer, FD is absolutely among the best things that have happened to me in the last few years.  As ironic as it sounds, I feel so fortunate to have been diagnosed with cancer as a young adult because it means I get to be a part of FD.  –Dash

 

I had one of the best weeks of my life and was reminded to take challenges head on, to find the rapids on the river because they’re the most fun, and not just float through on the calm areas. I found so much joy from being on the river and conquering the rapids, and enjoyed the incredibly supportive community of FD. I will always look back at my weeks at FD with awe, and wonder how it’s able to be so magical every time. – Commissioner Payaso

 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was pregnant. It was hard to leave her to attend camp, because she was just over a year old, but it’s the best thing I could’ve done as a mom. FD gave me so much more strength, it makes me feel happy and less burdened. I cry less. I laugh more. – Bender

 

The world of outdoor adventure is opening new things for me. Although cancer has been awful, I can truly say that one silver lining has been meeting all of you and learning to let go of my fears and try new things. It’s an amazing feeling. – Greyhound

 

You have given me adventure and strength and the belief that life is worth living and worth living well. You have shown me that I am not alone and will never be alone. You have helped me reclaim my body and have given me the opportunity to use it to do amazing things.  – Cookie

 

I almost did not come. I’ve just had more dental surgery (chemo and radiation did a job on my grill) Missing teeth, I didn’t want to smile or let anyone see. When I got here and another camper flashed a toothless smile; It felt like falling in love. Thank you Thank you Thank you. – Yogi

 

I think it’s safe to say I kicked butt this week. I also gained confidence and strength through this experience  and feel that I can continue to kick butt in life. Thanks again for supporting FD programs and giving me the opportunity to learn more about the water and my life. -Snuggie

 

I had no Idea what to expect. All I knew was that there was a hole in me and I needed to find something, someone, anything to cover it over. Instead, I filled the hole. Filled it with Fun, Friends and Feelings I was trying to throw away. Feeling whole for the first time in a long while and I have FD and you to thank.  -Bobo

 

We have all lost, lost something. Whether it was hair, a leg, a semester, an ovary, a breast, or memory, we have all had our own struggle.  But here, none of that matters. Here, these same people live more than anyone else I have ever met. The river brings us together, levels the playing field, and challenges us to face our fears. On the river small strokes make big waves.  These people and this experience is making a BIG wave in my life. THANK YOU!!! -Mac

 

It was this experience that made me realize my fear of cancer, my fear of not living life to the fullest, and, most importantly, my fear of living for me. Life is too precious to waste and no matter how many bruises I leave with, I will keep moving forward with courage and grace! Thank you for making a difference in my life! – “Sukey”

 

One of the biggest losses for me has been the loss of so much of my strength, which has been such a huge part of my life pre-cancer. Not feeling like I could rely on my body has led to depression, to isolation, and to not getting out and doing the activities that have always made me feel so alive. This week out on the river has transformed me. I’m taking risks, I’m succeeding, I’m feeling strong. You have no idea how wonderful a feeling this is and it is a direct result of your support. – Bill

 

This week has changed my life. I was lost in my life, feeling like I had no purpose. I was over-emotional and drifting to a very bad place. I needed this time away to remember what makes me who I am. I found ME on the river, in nature, and I feel that I can be the person I was before cancer, before hopelessness. You made it possible. – Stormy

 

While you were driving to work or putting on your pajamas, you were also changing my life. In the mornings I was strapping on my kayak spray skirt for a day of challenges and learning to find peace and stability. In the evenings, I was gathered around the campfire, learning from my fellow cancer survivors. June 6-12 was not another normal week for you. It was the week you became my hero.  – Shark Bait

 

We’ve been allowed the opportunity to be happy and free. This is a true miracle. I have felt more exhilaration and fear in the past few days than I have since my diagnosis. The FD experience is about challenging ourselves to step out of our comfort zone. Every moment of positivity I get from this experience and every feeling and overwhelming joy, I am sharing with you. Thank you times a million. – Smashley

 

Four years ago I was trying to come to terms with the fact that I had been diagnosed with cancer three times in less than thirty years.  Then I found First Descents and it changed my life in such a good way. – Maverick