303.578.6498 contact

BGBS 002: Brad Ludden | First Descents | Out Living It…Fighting the Cancer Epidemic with Adventure

00:00 / 00:43:34


When you’re in your 20s, time is spent on holding down a job, making friends, and paying rent. On top of all that, could you imagine having to fight cancer at that age? About 70,000 young adults are diagnosed annually with cancer. Fortunately, Brad Ludden, a professional kayaker, created an organization called First Descents (FD). It leverages the healing power of adventure to help young adults diagnosed with cancer. The physical, social, and emotional transformation for participants is real and powerful.

You’ll Learn…

  • Quality of life that growing up in the mountains and with nature offers
  • Brad started kayaking at 9 – spent much of the time being scared and crying; eventually, he fell in love with the sport and became obsessed with it
  • Brad’s first experience with cancer (aunt’s diagnosis) – wanted to help, but didn’t know how to; it inspired him to create FD
  • Brad started to teach kids with cancer how to kayak because of how much positivity and growth it brought to his life; could be transformational for them
  • Kayaking helps cancer patients rise to the challenge and obstacle of the river and apply what they learn about themselves to recovery from cancer
  • Society treats people differently after the diagnosis (like they’re fragile), but the river doesn’t discern – treats everyone equally, empowers them to face their fight
  • Cancer creates a sense of isolation and alienation; outdoor adventures are catalysts that create a tribe around a shared experience of cancer
  • People, passion, and processes involved in starting FD and making it successful; research now supports such alternative ways of healing
  • Importance of nicknames to differentiate participants and develop a new identity other than the cancer patient



Quotes by Brad Ludden:

“Rivers are ever present. They’re such a source of life around the world, and they are everywhere.”

“It’s (kayaking) all I knew. It’s the one gift I had to give.”

“Most good things in life come with challenges (such as kayaking). I just knew that if we could deliver this experience in a positive way to people with cancer, that it could be transformational.”

“That sense of accomplishment and growth and transformation is very real.”


iTunes Stitcher