Beat the Odds

From Openwaterpedia
Swim Across America 2012 brochure
Swim Across America 2012 brochure

Beat the Odds® is a comprehensive cancer prevention and survivorship program, offered in multiple formats and workshops in Long Beach, California. Developed and led by Dr. Mariusz Wirga, together with his wife Aleksandra Wirga, M.D., both psychiatrists and psycho-oncologists, the Beat the Odds program consists of 10-session and 6-day retreats for cancer patients and their families.


Mariusz Wirga, M.D. is an open water swimmer from Long Beach, California. He and his team raised the most amount of money at the Swim Across America Long Beach event in September 2012.

Dr. Wirga is also the medical director for the PsychoSocial Oncology program in the Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial. He is a board certified psychiatrist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral medicine. Dr. Wirga applies his expertise in cognitive-behavior therapy, psycho-oncology, psychoneuroimmunology, cognitive neuroscience and non-dual counseling to improve quality of life, psychological outcomes and survival in cancer patients and their families. He lectures and conducts workshops on these subjects internationally. Specific therapeutic tools such as; nondenominational cognitive-behavioral existential counseling and Nondual Medicine have been developed by Dr. Wirga. The latter is inspired by ancient Asian philosophical traditions but without religious or cultural influences.

Dr. Wirga serves on the Board of Advisers of the National Association of Cognitive Behavior Therapists. He developed and leads the Beat the Odds®: A Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Survivorship Program workshops in Long Beach. Additionally, together with his wife Aleksandra Wirga, MD., also a psychiatrist and psycho-oncologist, they conduct 6-day retreats for cancer patients and their families based on the Beat the Odds® Program.

Dr. Wirga has authored or co-authored several articles, book chapters and was the first to author a self-help book for cancer patients in Poland, Conquering the Illness [Zwyciezyc chorobe]. Dr. Wirga is currently developing a research project related to effectively addressing modifiable lifestyle cancer risk factors such as; stress management, nutrition, physical exercise, rest and sleep in breast cancer survivors.

After graduating first in his class from Medical University in Poznan, Poland in 1987, Dr. Wirga began leading groups for cancer patients, first as a resident in pathology and later as a resident in radiation oncology. He eventually switched to psychiatry and completed his residency in Psychiatry in New York and Washington, DC, under the supervision of Dr. Maxie C. Maultsby, Jr, MD (pioneer in cognitive-behavior therapy). Dr. Wirga trained extensively with Dr. O. Carl Simonton (radiation oncologist and pioneer of mind-body oncology), Dr. Maxie C. Maultsby, Jr, Dr. Albert Ellis (father of cognitive therapies), Dr. Marsha Linehan (personality disorders), Dr. Barbara Andersen (biobehavioral interventions to improve cancer survival) and Dr. Peter Fenner (unconditioned awareness and Nondual therapy).

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