Petra Thaller - Outdoor Against Cancer

We talk to Petra Thaller, the founder of Outdoor Against Cancer, or OAC for short. After suffering from cancer herself, she recognized the positive influence of outdoor activities during cancer treatment. With OAC, she now wants to give people suffering from cancer, as well as their families and friends, access to outdoor activities and outdoor sports. Messe.TV presenter Jürgen Groh talks to Petra Thaller at Outdoor in Friedrichshafen.

The origins of OAC - Outdoor Against Cancer

Jürgen Groh: We came across a serious topic at the trade fair: Outdoor Against Cancer. How did it all come about? Petra Thaller: I fulfilled a dream, I was in Papua New Guinea on one of the Seven Summits on the Carstensz Pyramid and after we climbed two peaks I fell on my chest while crossing the river on the way back. At first I got a big hematoma from it, which didn't go away. So I went to my gynaecologist, who didn't really know what it was 2 days before Christmas and then within 3 weeks the shape of my breast changed completely, the nipple moved inwards and à la longue it was then discovered that I already had 6 tumors in my breast, the largest was 2.5 cm and the smallest was 5 millimetres. And then the procedure started with lymph node removal, port insertion and chemotherapy. Jürgen Groh: How did Outdoor Against Cancer come about in particular, isn't that a program that you developed? Petra Thaller: I was on a ski tour with a friend during my chemotherapy and he said that we could go on a ski tour with cancer patients. I said that if I was going to do anything outside of my magazine, it had to have a solid foundation. During the week I thought to myself that Outdoor Against Cancer is a good term and then I did some research and found that there are over 2000 studies worldwide that confirm what I was feeling. Outdoor and sports activities before and during cancer treatment are very useful because you feel much better. That's how the first steps of Outdoor Against Cancer came about. Jürgen Groh: What do you do in the Outdoor Against Cancer program, what is its content? Petra Thaller: Initially, we thought that we would run sports programs for cancer patients, their friends and families to play on this theme of inclusion. The fact is that we are currently running awareness campaigns, dealing with the topic of education and are currently in the process of building up a nationwide network of offers and also a network across Austria. This is already becoming very large, although I must also say that the first step is education. We know that sport is very good before, during and after cancer treatment. People may have heard that before. But it definitely hasn't really sunk in yet in society.

Interview Petra Thaller Outdoor Against Cancer OAC
OAC Outdoor Friedrichshafen

Outdoor activities to accompany cancer therapy

Jürgen Groh: And then there's another thing: when someone is diagnosed, there's the initial shock and then perhaps complete lethargy. Do you get people out of that? Petra Thaller: Yes, there's a very good example, I have a young man in my sports group who is 43. He has a brain tumor that is benign. But that doesn't matter if it doesn't go away with chemotherapy, then it's really bad. After 5 months he was referred to me by the psycho-oncology department. At first he was a bit lethargic and said he didn't really know what to do. Now he's running the Großglockner mountain run relay with us and the tumor has shrunk by 60 percent, which is amazing. But that doesn't mean that our sport has reduced the tumor, but that the combination of physical fitness and chemotherapy has triggered a moment where he is now fit again. Jürgen Groh: I see a number of products here, are they also part of it? Petra Thaller: Of course they are part of it, they are our supporters from the outdoor industry. I come from the outdoor industry and when I founded Outdoor Against Cancer, I asked Klean Kanteen if they could give us a few bottles. That's how it developed over time. In the meantime, we have a lot of partners and also partners who sell their products with our label, for example at Sport Schuster. Jürgen Groh: And part of that goes to the foundation?

OAC Outdoor Against Cancer Interview
Outdoor Against Cancer Fair Outdoor

Products to promote Outdoor Against Cancer

Petra Thaller: Part of the money goes to Outdoor Against Cancer. Buff has also been a partner from the very beginning. I like it because the hat has a contour line structure, just like life goes up and down. There are also a lot of mountains on it, which should show people that they can get back up the mountain from the valleys. Then we have the two shoes from Viking. They are also produced without a Gore membrane, which is very important to me because Gore is also carcinogenic. That's why I said that we wanted a Viking shoe, but without a membrane. That's wonderful. Now there is a production of 600 pairs of shoes where 20€ will be donated to Outdoor Against Cancer for every pair sold. Jürgen Groh: What do you plan to do with your project in the future, where are you going? Petra Thaller: I come from the field of journalism, a book will of course be written about Outdoor Against Cancer and we are currently planning a trail across the Alps, an Outdoor Against Cancer trail that is feasible for cancer patients. Where you have slightly shorter stages and where you can include certain tourist regions and then we'll see how it goes from there. Jürgen Groh: Great idea, I wish you all the best.