Amazon Heart was founded in 2004 by two young breast cancer survivors, to meet the needs of women living with breast cancer through a unique approach to peer support – life changing adventures that help women come to terms with their breast cancer experiences and move on to live life fully.
In 2004 Amazon Heart held its first Amazon Heart Thunder adventure, a one week motorcycle ride in California from San Diego to San Francisco. The adventure was so successful we expanded to offer a range of adventure experiences around the world:
Amazon Heart Thunder – motorcycle adventures in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Amazon Heart Expedition – one week treks climbing Mt Hope in New Zealand and through Canyon de Chelly in Arizona
Amazon Heart Odyssey – one week community action projects building houses and programs in disadvantaged communities in Sri Lanka, India and Montana.
In 2009 the Cancer Council Queensland published a research project that evaluated the impact of participating in Amazon Heart Thunder on women’s psychosocial adjustment to breast cancer.* Positive outcomes for participants included feelings of inner peace, accomplishment, self-learning, a positive perspective shift, and improved social support.
Six months after the ride women reported positive effects with regard to the creation of new friendships and for some a feeling of having moved on from their breast cancer experience. Further research projects have been planned to continue investigating this unique peer support program.
Within four years, Amazon Heart organized 16 adventures, on four continents, in six countries with 200 women undertaking 250 individual journeys, raising over USD $800,000 for breast cancer causes.
Research and case studies of Amazon Heart programs have been presented at the World Cancer Congress in Washington DC, 2006; International Reach to Recovery Conference in Stockholm, 2007; the International Conference on Survivorship and Supportive Care in Cancer in conjunction with 1st Kuala Lumpur International Congress on Breast and Colorectal Cancer, Malaysia, 2007; and the 15th UICC Reach to Recovery International Breast Cancer Support Conference in Brisbane, Australia.
Amazon Heart Adventures were designed to address three specific areas:
Decrease the social isolation of survivors and provide a nurturing peer community to support them on their personal journeys.
Challenge media stereotypes of breast cancer survivors by portraying ordinary women getting on with life after their diagnosis.
Generate funds to meet the needs of the growing numbers of women living with breast cancer.
Where did the idea come from?
Amazon Heart was inspired by a successful event held in Australia called “Follow the Fenceline”.
In 1996 a group of breast cancer survivors embarked on an epic journey, riding motorcycles some 10,500 miles around Australia over the course of three months.
“Follow the Fenceline” became a national media sensation, with high profile coverage on national and local television, radio and newspapers and became the subject of an award winning documentary.
The ride was an incredible success in raising awareness of breast cancer, the issues faced by survivors and in raising funds for the cause.
Just as Amazon Heart was inspired by the pioneering example of The Fenceliners, participants in Amazon Heart adventures have returned to their own countries and implemented their own breast cancer adventure programs – notably in South Africa and Malaysia.
In 2010 Amazon Heart published a How To Guide for organisations and individuals wanting to run their own peer support adventures, and we continue to advise other organisations globally.