A New Journey with Above + Beyond Cancer

The Drake Community Press Announces Partnership With Above + Beyond Cancer


The Drake Community Press is one of few community presses in the country. A community press is based off the idea that a publication is truly a collaborative process between the press and the community. Here at the Drake Community Press, we embody this with our mission: “writing with”.

We by partner with a community organization for a span of two-years to produce full-color, illustrated editions that serve a community readership on issues of concernt to Iowans. Our goal is to promote positive interaction and community betterment, as well as to provide students with practical knowledge of book editing and production with a cross-disciplinary and collaborative focus.

That being said, we are excited to announce our next two-year journey with Above + Beyond Cancer. A+BC was founded in 2011 by Des Moines oncologist, Dr. Richard Demming. The organization not only leads amazing and inspiring journeys up mountains with cancer survivors, but it also offers classes in the Des Moines areas for individuals who are not able to climb mountains.

Above + Beyond Cancer’s journeys have taken them to places like Mount Kilimanjaro, the Himalayas, Nepal, and Macchu Pichu. These transformational treks take place in two parts, the first being that of service. For example, when a group of survivors, led by Dr. Demming journeyed to Kilimanjaro in 2017, they worked with the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya where they helped paint walls and connect with current cancer patients in the Nairobi community as well as people from all around Kenya.

The journey is a large piece of what Above + Beyond Cancer is all about. Mary Van Heukelom, the Health and Fitness Director and Interim Executive Director notes that “The journey is everything.  Our message is to make the most of every day, in body, mind, and spirit.”

Although their physical journey up a mountain is a spectacular feat, another crucial aspect of A+BC is the journey they see in current cancer patients who may not be able to climb a mountain. That is why A+BC has a variety of programs individuals at all different steps of their health. These programs range from Yoga, Cycling, Total Training, Tai Chi, Meditation, Book Club, Art Therapy, Nutrition Classes, gratitude journaling, and individualized well coaching.

Van Heuklom also notes that “this organization may educate all individuals how to find a higher quality of life, and what individuals can choose to decrease the chance of a   diagnosis. We also provide a great volunteer network of how to be involved in making a difference in the overall health and well-being of the community.”

The organization has worked to stretch beyond solely focusing on the survivor and has worked to put emphasis on the hope they can inspire in everyone. The organization inspires hope by meeting people where they are on their personal journey and encourages growth. Assuredly, this journey is not easy. Growth takes a lot of work and is not achieved overnight. That is why A+BC tries to help every individual throughout every step of the process.

The journey is often represented by working in communities as advocates. A+BC hosts multiple events raising money for cancer patients and cancer survivors, as well as to garner attention to the cause.

Present in the organization is a large theme of faith and how the soul and spirit need nurtured just as attentively as the body. A+BC’s cause larger than simply cancer in this aspect. The organization strives to show that every individual is impacted by faith and hope, and every one’s soul needs cared for.

The Community Press and Above + Beyond Cancer are in the planning stages for our journey, but we know that the adventure will consist of partnerships with Drake faculty to lead classes surrounding related material, discussion of policy forums that will be broadcast on television, and production of multiple types of media.

This journey is unlike the past three projects we have worked on, as we are in the process of utilizing multiple media outlets. We, however, refuse to lose the essence of our press. “Writing with” is what we do, and we are beyond excited to see where our partnership with Above + Beyond Cancer takes us.