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Surfing, yoga helps cancer recovery

Not-for-profit: Cancer survivor Rick Cowley is holding Surf Life retreats that combine yoga, surfing and healthy eating to inspire young adults with cancer to live life to the fullest.
Not-for-profit: Cancer survivor Rick Cowley is holding Surf Life retreats that combine yoga, surfing and healthy eating to inspire young adults with cancer to live life to the fullest. Scott Powick

SURFING and yoga might not be a usual combination, but it’s helped this cancer survivor claim back his life.

After being diagnosed with leukaemia in 1997, Coolangatta resident Rick Cowley’s love of the surf helped with his recovery, and he is now launching a not-for-profit program called Surf Life which offers a five-day retreat for cancer survivors that combines surfing, yoga and healthy meals.

Mr Cowley was born in California and began surfing when he was 16 years of age and started yoga around the same time to help with a back injury.

“Yoga helps to me feel good in my body, and everything in my life seems to flow better,” Mr Cowley said. “I underwent eight months of chemotherapy treatment and I was too sick to surf.

“I would sneak out of the hospital to go for a walk just to watch the surf.

“To surf again was my primary motivation to get better.”

Mr Cowley’s wife Pia said their eight-month-old son Santi and their six-year-old daughter Jaya both took after their dad by having a love of water.

A pilot retreat for the program Surf Life was held in September with five participants.

Three more retreats have been scheduled for this summer for December 12-17, January 9-14 and February 13-18. There will be space for eight participants per retreat and the December and January retreats are almost full.

The retreats will include a daily surf lesson, yoga lesson and healthy meals and those taking part will stay at Komune Resort in Coolangatta.

There is no charge to participants and the retreats are aimed at inspiring young adults with cancer to “surf” towards a bright future while living life to the fullest.

Mr Cowley is now seeking private contributions to pay for the retreats.

“I’ve just begun the fundraising for these upcoming trips, so at this point we have no money,” Mr Cowley said.

To express interest in the retreats or to donate contact Mr Cowley on 0431 253 498 or visit www.rickcowley.com.


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