Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What a Day!

What a day!  Hundreds of women (in shades of pink) paddled, drummed, danced, toasted each other and celebrated with hugs, cheers and great memories.  We were quite the sight in flapper dresses, high tops, lycra, pink life jackets and pink feathered boas. 

On the same waters at False Creek where 22 of us learned to paddle 20 years ago, today's novices joined us for a circuit and a raft up in front of hundreds of our friends, families and fellow Abreast in a Boaters.  They stood on the shore beside our Memorial Garden and we all tossed flowers into the waters in memory of our paddlers who have died.

What a change.  Imagine, only two decades ago, my fellow "Originals" and I worried and wondered if our heavy duty, upper body workouts in the gym and on the water would cause lymphedema. 
It didn't. 

Instead what our groups' experience generated was a team of wildly enthusiastic, determined and skilled leaders who kick started an international phenomenon among women who had faced breast cancer.  From one boat, 151 teams are now active internationally What a story! Dr. Don McKenzie, the originator of the research that the first 22 participated in, cheered wildly when he reminded the party goers that instead of us being told what we should not do, we learned that we could lead full and active physical lives post treatments. 

Yes we can.  And we do it with mutual support and joy.

Yup, we can paddle and party hardy too!

Judy Caldwell
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - BC/Yukon Region

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