Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Row Well and Fight Breast Cancer

Today, on a day we will probably break a high temperature record, I wonder about the women I wrote about before back in 2012.  I wonder how many of them are still alive, still thriving.

How many of you don't know someone who has had breast cancer?  I would be willing to bet the answer is "not many".

I prefer, for fundraising purposes, that we raise money to fight all cancer (I've blogged about my belief from time to time), but I also want to pay tribute to the women in my life who have waged this particular fight.

My mother in law (a two time breast cancer survivor) fought this fight back in the 1970's, back in what one might call "the dark ages". She didn't get much support, something that all people with cancer need.

For those who have survived breast cancer, this program is so empowering.  I applaud it.  I am happy to find the dragonboat/breast cancer movement is international, and continues to thrives.

Day 18 of the #Ultimate Blog Challenge

Row Well and Live (from 2012)

Today's quiz:  in what sport can a boat of 60 year old rowers win a race against 20 year old racers?

In Ithaca, New York, on Bastille Day 2012, we were treated to a sport where that can happen.

The secret is coordination. The elderly team, if coordinated, will beat out the young ones, as a dragon boater explained to the crowd.

Dragon boating is a sport where adults of all ages can participate and breast cancer survivors can make rude gestures at the obsolete medical advice that, after breast cancer surgery, they should give up activities such as carrying grocery bags. (More on breast cancer survivors dragonboaters later).

Maybe no more grocery bag carrying for these survivors, but they sure can row a boat.  So can the seniors.

Welcome to Dragon Boat racing.  Once something combined to certain countries in the Far East, dragon boats have caught on all over the country.

I've wanted to see a dragon boat race since I visited Philadelphia about 10 years ago, and the news shows were full of coverage focusing on the races to begin - right after I left.

It was love at first sight. Love as a spectator, that is. To my knowledge, there are no teams where I live in the Binghamton, New York. (2016 note - there still aren't).

The boats are simple.
In the front, next to the dragon head, a caller sits.  He or she beats the cadence (yes, like in that famous ship battle scene in the movie Ben Hur.)  Around 18-20 rowers are in each boat, along with a steerer.
Here is another view of the empty boats.
And, of course, there is the beautiful scenery of Ithaca, NY.

The names of the teams were amusing or inspirational.  My favorite was "Dragonboat Z" (Cornell's team), who won a bronze metal.  Other teams included the Puff Puff Dragons, the Wall Street Dragons, Big Red October, and Water Viper.

After the "Dotting the Eye" ceremony (more on that in another post), the breast cancer survivor team came  on stage and talked about their sport.  The speaker, a retired nurse in her 70's, had been an oncology nurse (ironically) and remembered the hundreds of post-mastectomy patients she had talked to, cautioning them about all the things they could no longer do.  Now, as a breast cancer survivor, she dragon boats.

The woman explained that only breast cancer survivors could race on her team.  Later, I did some research about the link between dragon boating and breast cancer survivors. It's symbolic and I understand the symbolism (knowing several breast cancer survivors) although I could wish they would take survivors other cancer survivors into their program.

If you are a breast cancer survivor, would you consider taking up dragon boating?


  1. That sounds wonderful.

    I support Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. It actually supports all of the American Cancer Society projects, not just breast cancer.

  2. It's good of you, Alana, to write and debunk myth that a cancer survivor cannot indulge in sports that makes the heart and mind happy. There are so many things that I didn't know about cancer and learning here.

  3. Dragonboats....
    I guess it spruces up the old crew concept a bit...

  4. That sounds like fun--the dragon boating, not having to go through cancer.

  5. Yes, breast cancer has and is punching my family in the gut. I've heard of a lot of different activities centered around breast cancer but this is the first I've heard of the dragon boats. Such a fun idea.

  6. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago. So far, no recurrence, but I have many friends who were diagnosed when I was who are no longer here. BTW, I'm 60... That's hardly "elderly." xoxox, Brenda

  7. I definitely do know more than one person and try to support where I can.


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