Raft 4 Life is an amazing opportunity to raise funds for research through collaboration with Angiosarcoma Awareness, Inc., all while enjoying life with some of the world’s most amazing people, sharing stories, and laughing despite the difficult journey of cancer life has chosen for some in attendance.
Rivers have been a positive, connecting journey that our family has shared for decades. Personally, nothing makes me happier then to share the exhilarating and bonding experience of running rivers. With my experience, I have grown as a person. The river teaches lessons and builds character. Most importantly, the river is a place where you can let go just for a moment; you make new lifetime friendships while challenging yourself beyond your personal boundaries. I encourage you to join us each and every year. The fundraising is very important, but the event is so much more than that.
Life is contagious. Living by the moment is the very essence of this event. It teaches us all that no matter what life chooses to put in our way; teamwork, hope, dedication, courage, and strength can help get us to the next step. The water isn’t always smooth, but together we can conquer the rapids.
Thank you for being on this journey, for joining us year after year, and for sharing your lives. Raft 4 Life is a life-changing experience that cannot be retold; it has to be experienced firsthand. We look forward to seeing you at the event!
For those who do not know me, my name is Julie Stanley. Being a caregiver for my mother, Carole Stanley, when she first battled breast cancer followed by her battle against rectal cancer, led me to be acutely aware of what cancer patients face. Additionally, it allowed me to directly experience the effect cancer has on their loved ones. After the first two battles, our family put cancer aside and tried to get back to normal. It was an unwelcome disappointment when my mother’s third type of cancer, angiosarcoma, was diagnosed.
Angiosarcoma is a rare and aggressive cancer of the blood vessels. It is a subgroup of sarcoma, and unfortunately, the prognosis is grim. My father, Mel Stanley, took the anxiety and desperation he acquired by her diagnosis and used it to his advantage. He was determined to find some answers. With dad’s unwavering resolve, it all paid off. Dad initially found the Facebook group for angiosarcoma (www.facebook.com/groups/101899709845272), which led him to the non-profit organization, Angiosarcoma Awareness, Inc. (ASA) (www.cureasc.org). We met this amazing group of individuals who were also fighting for their lives, or acting as caregivers for those fighting, against angiosarcoma. ASA is a patient led, federally registered nonprofit founded by Lauren Ryan and Corrie Painter. Through this wonderful organization, we have come to know the world’s most beautiful people.
In the meantime, my mother’s strength is contagious. She is a fighter, and even more than that, she has already been a two-time survivor giving hope to people who have recently been diagnosed. With her determination, she is once again cancer free.
I was inspired by Corrie Painter. I met her at the San Francisco event – Cycle for Survival (www.cycleforsurvival.org). I cannot begin to put into words the enthusiasm, energy, and upbeat atmosphere I witnessed at that event. I was hooked, and I wanted to do more. As Corrie and I spent time together, we shared our common interests. As it turned out, Corrie was a whitewater rafting guide in the past as well. We reminisced on stories of our favorite moments on and around rivers. The enthusiasm and positive experience I took from the Cycle for Survival event sparked an idea. Without hesitation, Raft 4 Life was born!
Running rivers has been a favorite sport among the Stanley Family. Together, we have shared many moments rafting on rivers, such as the Colorado River through the depths of the Grand Canyon. In addition to myself, both my two older brothers, Doug and Todd Stanley, have been professional raft guides as well. In my mind, I compare fast flowing and difficult rivers as a metaphor for fighting cancer. When you have a paddle in your hand and your team is entering a rapid, you paddle together and have the same goal in mind; to make it through the wave and down the backside. In certain moments, the waves crash into your face challenging you to stay strong and face the unknown, as does the journey against cancer. As we continue to battle on, we are all hoping to make it through for another chance at life.