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Breast Cancer Survivors to participate in International Dragon Boat Festival

Wow, what a delight it was to sit down and chat with Linda McGregor, Jenny Easey and Margaret White from Dragons Abreast Pumicestone to learn about their upcoming trip to New Zealand. They will join more than 4000 other women and men, all breast cancer survivors, at the International Breast Cancer Paddling Commission (IBCPC) participatory Dragon Boat Festival. The festival will be held in April on Lake Karapiro, a majestic hydro lake located just South of Cambridge on New Zealand's North Island.

The ladies had just finished their early morning training. It was one of those unusual overcast days with a slight drizzle of rain in the air, yet the passage was like a mill pond and looked spectacular in the light. It was easy to see why these committed paddlers thoroughly enjoy their early morning paddle. Getting out on the water and forgetting about all your troubles is therapeutic and an excellent rehabilitation strategy.

When I spoke to Margaret White, a young 83-year-old, she said she had been paddling for 11 years and loved it. She loved the friends she had made and the support from the others.

“I enjoy spending time with the women,” Linda McGregor said.

“It is good for the soul. I love seeing the dugongs, dolphins, turtles and other wildlife when we are out on the water. It is so peaceful and calm,” Jenny Easey said.

These seasoned paddlers are familiar with international paddling, having all attended the 2018 IBCPC Dragon Boat Festival in Florence. The festival started in 2010 and is held every four years, with a gap with the pandemic. This year there will be participants from 30 countries, all breast cancer survivors drawn from a selection of 240 IBCPC member teams. Dragons Abreast Australia comprises 28 clubs and has three teams entered - Inspiration, Hope and Spirit. Linda, Jenny and Margaret will be part of the Spirit team, a composite team including members from Newcastle. I understand other Bribie paddlers are also attending the festival from Bribie Pink, a non-aligned Dragons Abreast Australia Club.

The week-long event will include workshops, social events, a pink parade of nations and races. At the end of the week's festival a flower ceremony takes place where all the boats join to form a large raft. And those who have lost their battle with breast cancer are remembered with prayers and supportive vibes sent to those still fighting the illness. Flowers and petals are then dropped into the water by the boat's paddlers and spectators watching from ashore. A lap of honour and a paddle tap follows this—a very emotional time for all.

If you are a breast cancer survivor or are looking for a rehabilitation strategy following a breast cancer diagnosis, you are welcome to join the Dragons Abreast Pumicestone group and enjoy the friendship and support of the other paddlers. It may give you the lift up you need.

For more information please contact president Lyn Morgan on 0409 721 64 or secretary Kerry Kinrows or 0493 525 980.


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