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How Boarding for Breast Cancer Is Building a Community Around Wellness

Building a supportive community is one of B4BC's main goals. Andi Wardrop photo.

Boarding for Breast Cancer is the organization you want to be involved with as an action sports junky who wants to make a difference.

The organization was started in 1996 by professional snowboarders Tina Basich, Shannon Dunn, and other friends of the late Monica Steward. At 26 years old, Monica had a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer in part due to the idea that young women and men are not supposed to get breast cancer.

The original vision for B4BC was to increase awareness of breast cancer and prevention via education, especially for young people, while honoring Monica’s love for snowboarding and music. Shortly before she could see the event come to fruition with help from the action sports community, Monica passed away.

Though Monica’s presence was missed immensely, the first event was a huge success, raising half a million dollars in one night alone.

With such support, B4BC has evolved into more than just tying snowboarding and breast cancer awareness together. The organization empowers young people to understand an important fact that many of us fail to recognize: healthy, active lifestyle choices are the best means of prevention.

Yoga workshops are an integral piece of B4BC Wellness Retreats. Rebecca Amber photo.

Today, the organization is still educating with its imperative health messages, and has grown to encompass weekend-long wellness retreats in mountain towns and surf towns across the country, continuing to raise money and awareness for patients and survivors.

Professional snowboarder and longtime member of the B4BC community, Megan Pischke, who leads these retreats, brings wellness training to survivors and patients via nutritional medicine, yoga, and mindfulness in tandem with fresh air and snowboarding.

Professional snowboarder Megan Pischke is a longtime member of the organization. Anastasia Chomlack photo.

Perhaps most importantly, these retreats give women an opportunity to be outside and heal rather than at home in bed or sitting in a chemotherapy room.

“I really believe that being in the mountains and skiing and snowboarding is medicine. Being outside is a way of working through things and healing,” says Pischke.

Many of us are lucky enough to have healthy bodies that allow us to summit the highest peaks, bomb down the narrowest couloirs, and glide waist deep in powder on a bluebird day. But for others, that’s not an option. Recognizing this gap, Megan and the ladies at B4BC seek to bring survivors and patients a little bit closer to that rush many of us get to feel.

Getting outdoors is a highlight of B4BC's Snowmass Retreat. Andi Wardrop photo.

“I know what it is to be really blessed by being outside all the time, breathing fresh air. I’m really fortunate. We need to know and honor what we have but also understand that not everyone has the same access, and we need to increase it when we can.”

In addition to giving women the opportunity to be outside and feel the magic of being on a snowboard, skis, or a surfboard, these retreats create spaces for women experiencing breast cancer to bond with one another.

“The biggest thing these women are coming away from our retreats with is knowing other women who are going through something similar,” says Pischke. “We seek to connect women locally to forge friendships. It’s so important to have another woman who understands what you’re going through, and to just know you’re not alone.”

 B4BC helps create awareness about breast cancer through educational workshops like above. Andi Wardrop photo.

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