Event with expedition kayaker Scott Lindgren closes out Longevity Project
Community members gathered Thursday, Sept. 29, at Frisco’s 10 Mile Music Hall for the Summit Daily News’s Longevity Project event, the capstone of the four-week-long reporting project about cancer care in Summit County.
Throughout the month of September, the Summit Daily News published several installments of the series. The first explores the High Country’s effect on cancer risks and how local cancer incident rates compare to other communities, and the second discusses the importance of preventative screening and pitfalls that many people face while living in Summit County. For the third and fourth parts, local cancer experts discuss how stress on the body affects outcomes and what access to treatment looks like for residents of Summit County. Throughout the project, local cancer survivors and their families shared their stories.
Scott Lindgren, an expedition kayaker who is battling a brain tumor, was the keynote speak for the evening. Lindgren recently became the first person to successfully kayak the four great rivers of Tibet’s holy Mount Kailash. He said that self-isolation during and after treatment had a detrimental impact on his mental health and personal relationships.
“If you learn anything for me tonight, and you’re struggling — whether it be mental health, whether it be cancer, whether it be an injury — I just highly would suggest reaching out and finding community to articulate what’s going on and how you’re feeling because that’s what gave me so much hope,” Lindgren said. “It’s given me strength to stand up here and talk about my story.”
Lindgren said once he let go of trying to control every aspect of his life with cancer, he was able to return to kayaking after a hiatus.
“It didn’t work on the river,” he said. “If you try to control the river, you just get beat down, you drown. It was relentless. … It ended up being the only thing that I had respect for. Then it was like, ‘OK, what’s keeping me from letting go?’ My ego, my intellect (and) my story that I’ve told myself. This person that I’ve created, what if I just let go or what if I just stop controlling everything in (my) life? That changed everything. I got back into kayaking.”
At the event, attendees watched a showing of “The River Runner.” The documentary originally aimed to tell the story of expedition kayaking via multiple athletes and characters. It wasn’t until years into the editing process that director Rush Sturges pivoted and made the narrative about Lindgren and his journey with a brain tumor. He reiterated that community for people with cancer is a very valuable resource — especially for male patients who may have trouble communicating their feelings.
“One thing about Western health care is they treat you, they diagnose you, they give you a procedure,” Lindgren said. “Unless you blow out your knee or your shoulder — there’s some sort of (physical therapy) on the back end of that — they kick you to the curb. Then you’re left alone, unless you’ve got some sort of community or you’ve got a family or whatever to take care of you. But that’s it. You’re on your own, and that’s a very lonely place to be.”
Now, Lindgren is partnered with First Descents, a charitable nonprofit organization, headquartered in Denver, that provides outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer and other serious health conditions.
“It’s an organization that I’m so grateful for because of the community that they created on the back end,” he said.
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