Survivorship, the South Okanagan Breast Cancer Survivor’s Dragon Boat team paddled to 18th place overall out of 103 teams at the fourth International Breast Cancer Festival in Sarasota, Florida last weekend.
Teams from eight countries participated, including 46 teams from Canada.
More than 3,500 breast cancer survivors who had battled the disease competed to show that it is possible to have an active, healthy lifestyle after being treated for breast cancer.
“There is a tremendous feeling that we are pulling together to spread breast cancer awareness and support our sister survivors” said Lois Fedoruk, Survivorship team manager.
The breast cancer paddling movement began with a research study by Dr. Don McKenzie from the University of British Columbia in 1996.
He started with one team in an attempt to prove that upper body exercise was not only safe, but beneficial to patients who had been treated for breast cancer.
Now the movement has grown to more than 150 teams in 12 countries.
Survivorship, the South Okanagan Breast Cancer Survivors Dragon Boat team was formed in 2000. The team has since participated in many festivals locally, nationally and internationally.
The team won at the first International Breast Cancer Survivors festival in Vancouver in 2005 paddling against more than 70 teams.
Together with their coach, Don Mulhall, Survivorship brought the sport of dragon boat racing to Penticton. Now there are nine teams of dragon boaters and Penticton now boasts one of the largest and most sought after festivals in B.C.
Survivorship’s mandate is more than just paddling. They strive to raise awareness about breast cancer and support women as they undergo treatment.
As part of their mandate to offer support, the team has launched Tomorrow’s Hope.
This program offers one on one support, information and resources to all South Okanagan residents diagnosed with breast cancer.
The goal is to help them navigate the process of dealing with their diagnosis.