In 2000, Mary Mike Haley, Dana Zobs, and Cheryl Ryan formed Living Journeys. Dana brought the Breast Cancer Fund’s “Peak Hike” to Mt. Crested Butte in 1999, which was a successful event from the San Francisco area that raised money for breast cancer advocacy. The Breast Cancer Fund (BCF) wanted to return a portion of the fundraising back to the community. At the time there was not a non-profit in the valley that worked with cancer. The decision was made to start a support group with the funds and call it Living Journeys.
When the support group was first put together, Mary Mike Haley was the primary therapist for the group. At the time the Breast Cancer Fund was running the hike and according to their mission statement they could only give money to a support group and research. No money could be given directly to individuals. Mary Mike was hired to run the support groups, and after a short amount of time, she realized people were really stressed about the financial burden that comes with this disease.
When the BCF stepped back from the hike here they offered Dana a job in California and she accepted it. Dana approached Mary Mike about continuing the hike which is now the Summit Hike that exists today. The BCF donated $10,000.00 to continue the hike that first year, and Alice Arnold put together a 501c3 pro-bono creating Living Journeys. Mary Mike selected Living Journeys’ first board and that board decided together Living Journeys\’ number one mission would be emotional and financial support for people, men, women and children, dealing with all types of cancer not just breast cancer. Living Journeys operated out of Mary Mike’s house for the first three years.
Cheryl Ryan, as a founder, had inflammatory breast cancer and wanted to create an environment for patients, survivors and community members to come together for hope and comfort. Cheryl saw the need for a support system that dealt directly with the emotional and physical aspects of all types of cancer and those affected by the disease. The founders also discovered that many people struggled with balancing their normal responsibilities with their new battle for survival and how in almost all cases the astronomical medical expenses were met with a decrease in income due to the inability to work. This awareness expanded to Living Journeys’ grant program where clients could apply for a financial grant to experience a little financial relief.
Living Journeys helps individuals and their families in a desperate time of need and offers some relief from financial stresses and emotional support programs offering tools to manage emotions such as fear, anxiety and confusion that often accompany a cancer diagnosis. Patients with a calm, healthy mental state improve their quality of life, and may also enhance their chances for positive treatment results.