Dragon boat racing is fast becoming a popular sport for breast cancer survivors. There are over 200 ‘pink’ crews throughout the world and a growing number in the UK.
Recovering from breast cancer treatment can be an immense challenge, both mentally and physically. But with the help of a ‘floating support group’, exercise can play a big part in the lives of breast cancer survivors.
What is the connection between dragon boats and breast cancer survivors?
After breast cancer surgery, women are often advised to be careful about how they use the arm on their affected side to avoid lymphoedema (irreversible swelling of the arm). But in 1996, Canadian doctor, Professor Don McKenzie decided to test this advice by forming the first breast cancer survivors dragon boat crew. He believed that physical activity involving teamwork and paddling could provide emotional support for the women taking part but also that the repetitive and vigorous upper body exercise would help prevent lympoedema. Professor McKenzie was proved right:
As they say - the rest is history... the news has spread and all over the world, women living with breast cancer are forming themselves into dragon boat crews.
Why dragon boating?
none of the women developed lymphoedema;
their health and well-being improved dramatically; and
those who started the trial with lymphoedema found that their symptoms improved.