Health & Wellness

Survivor's Outdoor Experience - A Healing Adventure Retreat

Free retreat for cancer survivors and their companions

When Jack Ganster was diagnosed with brain cancer, he never said, "Why me?" instead, he said, "What am I supposed to do with this experience?" The long-time outdoor enthusiast decided to take his experience and develop outdoor experiences for other survivors.

Survivor's Outdoor Experience (SOE) was created in 2011 and since that time, seven retreats have been hosted in Ganster's home in Port Angeles, WA. But the Richland Township native wanted to bring SOE to his hometown and now, SOE will be hosting its first Pittsburgh-based "Healing Adventure" at the Chatham University Eden Hall campus June 28th - 30th , 2019.

Survivor's Outdoor Experience is a 501 (3) non-profit educational and recreational organization run solely by volunteers. Founded by Ganster, a 15-year brain cancer survivor, this program was developed to provide cancer survivors of all ages an opportunity to learn about the benefits of living a healthy and active lifestyle. The Healing Adventure Retreat provides a curriculum of informative presentations balanced with recreational activities. The goal is to assist participants in gaining strength, hope, and a sense of the future.

Participants will include individuals that have been diagnosed with cancer and a companion (if they choose to be accompanied). We would like to invite cancer survivors to attend this event - all participants attend for free. Please note that SOE considers anyone who has been diagnosed a survivor from the second that they receive the diagnosis.

The retreat features informative presentations, indoor and outdoor activities, good food and most of all, camaraderie, good times and memories. Presentations and activities include: Who is a Survivor? From Surviving to Thriving. Now What? Navigating Forward. Relating to Nature: from farm to table walk with Chatham University staff. Yoga. Meditation. The Companion's Story. Self-Advocating and Kayaking at North Park.

"I am pleased and honored to have such a great list of presenters for our first ever Pittsburgh program. We have hosted seven successful programs in Port Angeles, Washington and look forward to bringing this program to my hometown. We have planned an informative and relaxing weekend for survivors and their loved ones. We hope this will be a meaningful experience for everyone," Jack Ganster, Executive Director of SOE, said.

For more information about SOE visit . For more information about the free program SOE retreat including registration, please contact Kathleen Ganster at 412-377-8364 or or Jack Ganster at 360-477-1619 or

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