During Breast Caner Awareness Month, Launceston General Hospital Café on Frankland hosted the Pink Breakfast.
Almost 50 men and women got up early enough to make it to the Annual Pink Breakfast at 7am on a Wednesday morning. I salute all of them for this brave gesture, and thank them all for supporting this DANTI fundraiser, as well as supporting the need to bring breast cancer awareness to the community, constantly.
The LGH staff did a wonderful job of decorating, printing the posters and the tickets, and on the day, making everyone feel very welcome, plus they provided a really good breakfast for a low cost. Thanks also to BCNA ladies who offered pink merchandise before and after the breakfast. Always nice to work with these ladies.
President Beth gave a talk about her journey from the diagnosis, to the treatment, and then onto the more exciting element, Dragon Boating. She was trying to work from her notes, but the peripheral neuropathy in her fingers caused these notes to fall to the ground at regular intervals, so she just spoke from the heart about the joy, the camaraderie, the support, the thrill and the love she has for this sport, especially where Dragons Abreast events are scheduled.
Following on from Beth’s talk at the Pink Breakfast, this is the information about the beginnings of Dragon Boating for Breast Cancer Survivors, in 1996.
Dr. Don McKenzie, founder and coach of the first breast cancer dragon boat team Abreast In A Boat, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (1996). Affectionately referred to as Dr Don, he continues his research into the benefits of exercise both during and after treatment.
1. It has now been fifteen years since you started the breast cancer dragon boat paddling. How concerned are you now about lymphedema developing in breast cancer paddlers?
When we began this adventure in 1996, the prevailing opinion within the medical and allied-medical professions was that upper-body exercise was absolutely contraindicated in breast cancer patients. The experience of the first year visibly demonstrated that, with proper preparation, strenuous upper-body exercise would not result in lymphedema. It was necessary to defy that myth and we all need to give thanks to the original 24 women who served as pioneers in that first year.
We now know a great deal more about lymphedema than we did in 1996. This condition is finally receiving some research funding (although not enough) and there are several Centres in the world that are producing some very important results. Based on our experience in Vancouver and the lessons gained from this research, I am not particularly worried about women developing lymphedema. However, the risk is not zero and proper attention to exercise and training remains very important.
2. What advice would you give paddlers who are just starting to paddle in dragon boats? Would that advice be any different from what you gave those first paddlers of Abreast In A Boat and, if so, how would it be different?
The advice would not change much; as you remember, that was a high risk time in the evolution of breast cancer dragon boat paddling and we did not leave very much to chance. I would still emphasize the need to prepare for this activity; it is unique and requires physical preparation and patience in learning the proper technique. I am not convinced that everyone does enough in the gym prior to the start of the paddling season. I would also emphasize that paddling is simply a vehicle to better health- it should be a lot of fun and the mental and physical benefits are more important than winning a race. That’s not to say that race day is not important but it needs to be placed in perspective.
“Paddle for fun, race to win”.