Surviving and Thriving

Surviving & Thriving Conference - Cancer survivors and caregivers are invited to spend a relaxing weekend learning new ways to promote health and wellness. Participants share strength, humor and wisdom while discovering ways to regain control, reduce feelings of isolation and restore hope. Anyone touched by cancer is welcome to attend. Call 210-450-5574 for more information.

The Surviving and Thriving Retreat is a special event where cancer survivors and caregivers can get away from the pressure and stress of everyday life to gain new skills and knowledge to enhance their quality of life.

At the retreat, survivors celebrate life through a variety of workshops, lectures and group activities that promote health & wellness, support, and laughter. Attendees come away feeling empowered and renewed.

Topics span a wide range of subjects. Attendees increased knowledge about long-term side effects, psychosocial adjustment, nutrition support, health & beauty, and the numerous other aspects of cancer survivorship. Caregivers learn that they are not alone with their challenges and are given tools to optimize the relationship with their loved-one.

The weekend also provides an opportunity to share your insights with other people who have experienced what you are going through.

Approximately 75 adult cancer survivors and caregivers from throughout the United States are expected to be in attendance for this year's event which is scheduled for May 16 - 18, 2014 at the John Newcombe Conference Center in New Braunfels Texas. The theme for the weekend is "Survivor Safari".

John Newcombe Conference Center in New Braunfels Texas
Josh Davis
Ethan Zohn

Before he became an instantly recognizable celebrity on the reality television program Survivor Africa, Ethan Zohn played soccer professionally for teams in both the United States and Zimbabwe. So when he won the competition and found himself $1 million richer, he had to make some decisions. What would he do with the money and his new celebrity?

It didn’t take long to decide. He decided to use his money and notoriety to help spread HIV and AIDS prevention education to young people in Africa. It fit Ethan’s character. It was the perfect way to blend his value of serving others while paying tribute to Africa – a continent of people who had taught him a great deal. Using professional soccer players, Ethan’s non-profit, Grassroot Soccer, is educating an entire generation of young Africans. Ethan is the national spokesperson for America Scores, an organization that helps inner city kids participate in educational soccer programs.

And that probably would have been the end of an admirable story – young, attractive soccer player puts his money to work for others. For several years, Ethan devoted himself to his non-profit and existed as a television celebrity. In 2009, Ethan was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Suddenly he was fighting to become a “survivor” in a whole new sense. While he endured the rigors of cancer treatment, he became a national spokesperson for Katie Couric’s Stand Up to Cancer organization and kept a weekly video blog on People Magazine’s website. Millions watched Ethan fight the highs and lows of aggressive cancer treatment. His interest in service remained stronger than ever.

In recognition for his charitable work, Ethan has been awarded the “Nikosi Johnson Community Spirit Award” by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, the “Heroes Among Us Award” from the Boston Celtics and the Massachusetts State Health Department and the Auxilia Chimusoro Award from the US State Department in Zimbabwe. In addition, he was awarded the 2007 Peace Abby “Courage of Conscience”, the 2008 Caring Hand’s “Philanthropic Achievement Award” and was named one of People Magazine’s “Helpers of the Year” in 2005.

Josh Davis
Michael J. Wargovich, Ph.D.

Michael J. Wargovich, Ph.D., F.A.C.N.
Professor of Molecular Medicine
CTRC Council Distinguished Chair in Oncology

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Dr. Wargovich received a B.A. at Washington and Jefferson College in biology and a M.S. from Duquesne University in Biological Sciences. He received a Ph.D. in microbiology from Texas Tech University in 1981. He then undertook post-doctoral studies at the Ontario Cancer Institute and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto, Canada. There, Dr. Wargovich first began research in the emerging discipline of cancer chemoprevention. Recruited to the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in 1984, Dr. Wargovich pioneered the development of preventive agents. Dr. Wargovich studied hundreds of agents for cancer prevention activity. Among the discoveries made were the cancer preventive roles for compounds in green and black tea, various herbal and alternative medicine products, citrus, and cruciferous vegetables.

In 2012, he relocated to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he co-leads the Cancer Prevention and Population Science Program for the NCI-designated Cancer Therapy & Research Center. He holds the CTRC Council Distinguished Chair in Oncology. Research in his laboratory focuses on the prevention of colon cancer. Dr. Wargovich's research involves studying the effects green tea and antioxidant compounds have upon tumor growth. Dr. Wargovich is an international expert in colon cancer, cancer chemoprevention and botanical medicine related to cancer.

Josh Davis
Rowena N. Schwartz, Pharm.D., BCOP

Rowena N. Schwartz, Pharm.D., BCOP
Senior Director of Clinical Content and Services
McKesson Specialty Health

Rowena N. Schwartz is the Senior Director of Clinical Content and Services at McKesson Specialty Health. 

Dr. Schwartz received a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at the College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago and a Doctor of Pharmacy at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  She completed a two-year fellowship in oncology drug development at the University of Texas.  Dr. Schwartz is a board certified oncology pharmacist.

During the course of her career she has practiced in a variety of oncology practice settings, and has been an Oncology Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in adult hematology, oncology and stem cell transplantation at the University of  Pittsburgh Cancer Center. Additionally, she was the Director of Oncology Pharmacy at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where she continued an active clinical practice with the Johns Hopkins Hospital Oncology Anticoagulation Service. 

Dr. Schwartz’s practice and research interest is in the area of drug therapy for the prevention and/or management of cancer and cancer related complications.  She has a focused interest in geriatric oncology. Rowena is a an active member of the Hematology and Oncology Pharmacy Association, American Society of Health System Pharmacist,   Geriatric Oncology Consortium, the International Society of Oncology Pharmacy and the Oncology Nursing Society.  She has authored numerous chapters, journal articles and abstracts in various topics related to pharmacy practice in oncology, and speaks frequently on pharmacy and multidisciplinary aspects of oncology practice.


Ladies in the pool

Tentative Agenda

Surviving & Thriving: Survivor Safari

May 16 - 18, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

4:00 – 6:00 PM - Arrival & Check-in
6:00 – 7:00 PM - Dinner
7:00 – 7:15 PM:  Welcome – Mr. Dale Flowers, UT Med Chief Administrative Officer
7:15 – 7:30 PM: Introductions and Housekeeping – Mary Jackson, MSN, OCN
7:30 – 9:00 PM: Team Formation and Ice Breaker/Team Building Activities
9:00 – 10:30 PM: The Lion King Movie

Saturday, May 17, 2014

7:30 – 8:00 AM: Morning Meditation – Dr. Karri Zumwalt
8:00 - 9:00 AM: Breakfast
9:00 – 10:00 AM: Keynote Address – Mr. Ethan Zohn
10:30 – 11:00 AM: Group Picture
11:00 – 12:30 PM:Option A: Drumming & Art – Mr. Kevin Cooley and Associates
                               Option B: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet – Dr. Michael Wargovich
12:30 – 1:30 PM: Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 PM: Option A: Gentle Yoga – Kathy Verstegen
Option B: Drumming Workshop – Mr. Kevin Cooley and Associates
3:00 – 4:00 PM: Option A:  Medication Management – Rowena Schwartz, PharmD
                         Option B: Essential Oils and Lotions - TBA                 
4:00 – 4:30 PM: Pool Party
5:30 –6:30 PM: Dinner
5:30 – 7:30 PM: Face Painting
7:30 – 9:00 PM: Animal Masked Ball with Drumming and African Dance Performance
9:00 - ?: Karaoke & S’mores

Sunday, May 18, 2014

7:30 – 8:00 AM Morning Walk – Dr. Karr Zumwalt & Jenny Gonzales
8:00 – 9:00 AM: Breakfast
9:00 – 9:30 AM: Sunday Service - Chaplain Darwin Huartson
10:00 – 11:00 AM: Option A: Tai Chi – Sharon Milford
Option B: Caregiver Support - Chaplain Darwin Huartson
11:30 – 12:30 PM:  Lunch
12:30– 1:30 PM:  Option A: Happy Tails Animal Experience
Option B: Painting with a Twist – Sophia Diaz
2:00 - 3:00: - Closing Ceremony  

Ongoing throughout the weekend:                                 
Massage & Reiki – By Appointment
Saturday 11 - 5 PM, Sunday 9-2 PM


  • A limited number of scholarships will be awarded based on availability and financial need.

  • The amount of assistance provided will be determined using Federal Poverty Guidelines.

  • You will need to provide a completed scholarship application along with proof of family income.

    Scholarship Application

For more information please contact Mary Jackson at (210) 450-5574.


A $150 donation (or any amount you are able to give) provides a deserving cancer patient with the opportunity to attend this year's Surviving & Thriving Conference. Your tax-deductible gift will provide a weekend of hope and healing. Donations accepted online at :
Wellness Center donation page

Be sure to specify Surviving & Thriving in the comment section.

"Thank you for helping me get up when I have fallen down. You appeared in my life when I needed it most."

"Surviving & Thriving is like a Make-A-Wish for adults. I will now refer to the CTRC staff, volunteers and the retreat as Give-A-Smile, because that is what it does."

"The conference gets better with each passing year. It's so nice to be with people who understand where you've been and who treat you like you are normal, not like some pariah. Cancer scares people even though they know it's not contagious."

We would like to thank the following organizations for their support to this years Surviving & Thriving Conference.

Dixie Starnes Wenger Foundation


Surviving & Thriving 2012 Video


  • Payment in full is required for online registration:
    $150.00 if registration is received by April 18, 2014
    $175.00 if registration is received after April 18, 2014

  • Payments can be paid online with a credit card or mail payment to:
    Patients & Family Services - MC 8201
    7979 Wurzbach Road
    San Antonio, Texas 78229
Surviving & Thriving 2014 Registration Form
  Are you a Survivor or Caregiver
If a Survivor - Date of Cancer Diagnosis
First Name
Last Name
Daytime Phone Number  (example: 2105551212)
  Alternate Phone Number (example: 2105551212)
  Emergency Contact Person Name
  Emergency Contact Person Phone  (example: 2105551212)
  Doctor's Name
  Doctor's Phone  (example: 2105551212)
Are you a Vegetarian?
Are you in a wheelchair?
  Do you have any limitations we need to be aware of? (unable to climb stairs, hearing impaired, etc...)
  NOTE: Wheelchair accessible rooms are limited. We may not be able to accommodate all people with mobility challenges.
  Name the person(s) that you would like to room with.
  Please describe clearly any special needs:
Select T-Shirt Size
  If you would like a copy for your records please print before submitting.

Please enter text in image/ Por favor introduzca los caracteres:

* Mandatory Fields

Once you submit your registration form, you will be directed to an online payment page.

For more information please contact Mary Jackson at (210) 450-5574.