Dragonboat team ready to shine in October

DB2
RIVER DRAGON: Sweep Kelly Broomhall and drummer Vicky Whitney with the Dragonboat team.

The tittilator may not be the most obvious choice for a boat name, but for the ladies of Launceston’s Dragons Abreast Northern Tasmania Inc Dragonboat Club, it couldn’t be more suitable.

As a Dragons Abreast Club, the members are all survivors of breast cancer.

Vice president Beth Sowter said they were not the only Dragons Abreast Club to use humor in describing their experience.

“We used to be the Tamar Tittilators and in Devonport, they had Nipples on Ripples,” she said.

“Some people get embarrassed when they hear it, but we actually get a good laugh out of it.

“It’s part of our overall philosophy that there is life after a breast cancer diagnosis.”

Mrs Sowter was one of the original members of DANTI, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

While the club initially comprised of only breast cancer survivors, dwindling numbers meant it was forced to expand in 2012 and allow other paddlers in, bringing about the creation of the North Esk Dragon Boat Club.

Despite the change, Dragons Abreast events are still a central part of the club’s schedule, with paddlers able eligible to participate in ‘pink’ meets across Australia throughout the year.

Mrs Sowter said the club’s unique make up can be difficult to explain.

“We’re a community club that embraces pink,” she said.

“There are two committees, but we all just meet as one.

“We’ve made sure that a survivor has always held the positions of president and treasurer within DANTI.”

DB1
TEAM DANTI: The Dragons Abreast Northern Tasmania Inc Dragonboat team trains on the North Esk River.

Dragonboat racing is an aquatic sport involving a 12-metre long canoe-style boat which holds 20 people (two abreast), as well as a sweep to steer the boat and drummer.

We’ve made sure that a survivor has always held the positions of president and treasurer within Danti.

A dragonboat features the head and tail of a dragon, regarded in Chinese mythology as having dominion over the waters and exercising control over rainfall.

It’s link to the rehabilitation of breast cancer patients can be traced back to 1996 when Dr. Don McKenzie developed a program to determine the impact of exercise on survivors.

In choosing dragonboating, the exercise physiologist challenged the widespread medical view that breast cancer survivors should avoid rigorous upper body exercise for fear of developing lymphedema, a debilitating and chronic side effect of treatment.

He trained 24 breast cancer volunteers in a gym for three months, before introducing them to dragonboats and teaching them paddling techniques.

The women not only found themselves to fitter, healthier and happier, but they were also able to feed off the support of their fellow survivors.

They went on to name their team ‘Abreast in a boat’ and eventually invited others to share in their experience.

In Australia, the movement originated when a group of Northern Territory women attended the First National Breast Cancer Conference for Women in 1998.

After hearing a Canadian guest speaker mention how breast cancer survivors paddled dragonboats, Dragons Abreast founder Michelle Hanton returned to Darwin to recruit a group of paddlers.

It has since developed into a national organisation featuring survivors of various ages from a diverse mix of backgrounds.

Mrs Sowter said the spirit of camaraderie within Dragons Abreast was as strong now as it had ever been.

“It’s a very cohesive movement,” she said.

“We’ve got lots of interstate friends now who come and paddle with us if they are visiting.

“The club also attends various regattas around Australia.”

With October marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the club would usually be preparing to host its annual Come and Try Day on the Tamar River.

This year, however, paddlers are heading to Barrington to compete in Over 50s and 60s divisions of the Masters Games.

Held across the weekend of October 26, the event includes race specifically for survivors of cancer.

The timing of the games means the Come and Try Day will now be held in November, with Mrs Sowter encouraging anyone with an interest in paddling to head to the North Esk Rowing Club for what should be a fun day.

“We kit them out in gear and give them about half an hour on river in the boat,” she said.

“There have been quite a few members to come out of Come and Try Days in past, although it has been difficult to retain them.”

For more information, head to www.northeskdragons.com/danti.

Source: www.examiner.com.au/story/4982251/paddling-away-pain
All pictures: Paul Scambler

Advertisements

Light the Night

The support was strong at Seaport on Friday night, as a sizeable crowd gathered for the annual Light the Night event.

Now in its sixth year within Launceston, the national Leukaemia Foundation initiative had one of its biggest turnouts yet, with more than 200 people walking along the Tamar River with lanterns lighting the way.

There was even activity on the water, with dragon boat teams rowing with lanterns to show their support.

Of the three colours of lanterns, gold was given to remember someone who lost their battle, white for those in the midst of their own fight, and blue as a sign of hope and support.

Volunteer Jackie Martin said the impact of blood cancer should never be understated.

“It’s such an insidious disease,” she said.

“There are no triggers, it just is what it is.

“I think Light the Night is a lovely symbolic event, which people always remember.”

This years marks the 30th anniversary of Leukaemia Foundation and the 10th anniversary of Light the Night.

Video: James Burke.

Source: Leukemia Foundation Light the Night Success

Rotary Club Open Day

The Rotary Club held an Open Day on Sunday, September 17, for community services and clubs around Launceston. The North Esk Rowing Club was asked to be involved, who then invited and included the Dragon Boat Club in this event.

open

Thank you to Ros, who took the reins in this, and to the members who showed up and lent a hand on the day. Ros was instrumental in organising us, and deciding what we should put out on show. There was quite a bit that didn’t make it, however, so we know we can do better if an event like this occurs in the future.

While only a handful of punters came through on the day, Ros had them well in hand, showing them around and telling them about our club. The Rowing Club had also kept the bar open from the “Sunday School” and was serving coffee and slices. Vanessa, the NERC secretary, had prepared a slideshow, including dragon boats, that played through both projectors. While we had input in this, it’s another thing that can be improved for next time!

Birthday Bash 2017

The Birthday Bash, for those who aren’t aware, has become traditional due to the high density of birthdays within the club at this time of year. I won’t list them for fear of forgetting someone! This year it was held at Yacht Club 55. I believe we all enjoyed ourselves, due to the excellent company and great conversation. I heard quite a bit of laughter around the table, anyway!

birthday

As I entered, I noticed that the table had been set with party hats and noisemakers – and then the rest of the noisemakers arrived! Fun-loving Beth was the first to put her hat on, of course. I eventually followed suit so as to keep her company, then others joined in.

All in all, the camaraderie was exceptional. Thank you to all who attended, sorry to those who couldn’t, and I hope you can all join us at the next social event on the calendar, the Christmas party and Dragon Petanque Festival – it should be a hoot!

Story: Beth Sowter

The 2017 Pink Breakfast

The Pink Breakfast was held at the LGH in August and was presented this year by YWCA Encore supported by Women’s Health Tasmania. Mandy Page from Encore was a lovely, bubbly hostess and she did a great job.

pink1Encore offers support, information, and a specially-designed exercise program for women who have experienced breast cancer at any time in their life, including post-treatment support. Operating in Australia for over 30 years, YWCA Encore has already helped thousands of Australian women.

As DANTI have been the traditional hosts of the Pink Breakfast, we were represented by a hardy group of members who braved the early morning to attend this worthy annual event.

The format was a little different this year – which happens when an event is hosted by another party – with continental breakfast available on the table and a hot plate delivered to each person. I think you’ll all agree that this makes things much more straightforward than the usual buffet. Or maybe it’s just my hospitality training kicking in … The decorations looked great too!

Another point of difference was the raffle. While there was also a traditional raffle, this one had cards indicating the cost of the ticket, with the prize number visible on the back. I think the theory being that whichever card you pick up denotes the prize you receive. However, the prizes were all on view with their prize numbers clearly visible as well. So, what some people seemed to do is choose the card that corresponded to the prize they wanted! That seems to defeat the purpose of a raffle somewhat. Anyway, our own Beth “won” a lovely basket of goodies including a bottle of wine, and then apparently nearly left without it! She did leave behind one much-beloved purple dragon, who had been sitting on our table, never to be seen again. Poor dragon.

All in all, we had a good breakfast with great company and entertainment (Thanks, Keeva!) before departing to our respective duties for the day – yes, some people had to work.

But not me!

pink2

Photos from Beth Sowter

The Footy Record

footy1In Feb 2015, with thanks to the North Esk Rowing Club, we were first offered the activity of Record selling at AFL games at, what was then known as, Aurora Stadium (now UTAS Stadium). This opportunity to work for much-needed funds was too good to let pass. Even though members are volunteering to the club, the club is employed by UTAS Stadium.

The Dragon Boaters have just completed their third season. Enthusiasm has not waned, with the eager sellers prompt and visible, spruiking “Records” loudly to the arriving crowds!

There has been extremely positive feedback from the officials, who are happy to leave us to do what we do. At our first event we sold out before the first siren! Wow … feeling very proud that we thought this was how it would be! Although we have gone close, we have never run out since. (Maybe they upped our quota!) Records are restocked and moved between stations to meet demand, and once half-time is over, it is pack up and head home!

The lime green jackets have become a part of our weekends during winter. The club bank account is [much] healthier due to this fund-raising activity and I know the members enjoy the satisfaction of getting the job done! A special thank you to all members who have attended and extra thanks to the non-member partners and friends who also helped out.

– Keeva Leighton
AFL Record Co-ordinatorfooty2

DANTI President’s Report 2017

This year has welcomed 4 new pink members to the club under an alliance with BCNA, with a one year membership being offered by Danti to encourage more breast cancer survivors to join the club. We will continue to work closely with BCNA in the future.

In November Danti members Karyn and Beth joined the Redcliff Survivors team CanSurvive at the 2016 Pan Pacific Masters Games in Queensland. We also raced across two fabulous days with other North Esk members as crew with the Fire and Water Dragons from Cairns and Townsville. Our club has been invited to join the Fire and Water Dragons at future PanPacs which we will gladly accept.

The regular February Regatta on Lake Barrington was this year split into two regattas, with Nipples on Ripples hosting a more general pink and community regatta which included a dedicated DAA race, plus the always emotional Flowers on the Water ceremony.

DBTas hosted the State Titles the following month at which the North Esk team showed a real fighting spirit to come third behind the two sporting Derwent Storm teams. There was no DAA breast cancer survivors’ race, but instead, an all cancer survivor race. This is becoming more common at AusDBF events, due to the fact that many DAA clubs cannot field a team for the other races at these events and can’t justify the travel to a regatta just for one race. It is encouraging to note that the Masters Games in Tasmania in October has included a DAA race for BC survivors.

In July 2018 Karyn and Beth will join DAA Team Inspiration to race in Florence, Italy. Beth has attended two International Breast Cancer Paddling Commission events, one in Canada and one in Florida, where past Danti member Wilma Ashby joined the team as well. Beth intends to continue to paddle internationally for as long as she can hold a paddle and get into a boat.

On the home front Danti celebrated its 10 th year of existence with a reunion in May. All past members were invited to attend the reunion, held at Linda and John’s welcoming house and it was a disappointment that the crappy weather prevented us from taking the Tittilator out on the river at 10am with some of the original committee members in it.

As a follow up to this 10 year landmark, Craig did the behind the scenes work which enabled Danti to present medallions at the Awards night in June, to the 4 paddlers who were original members of the club in 2007, 10 years ago. Coach Paul, Jean, Merran and Beth Lesa won the Danti award for being the most enthusiastic new paddler who has totally embraced the philosophy of DAA that “there IS life after a diagnosis of breast cancer”.

I heartily thank the Danti committee who this year have revised the Constitution to bring it into line with the revised DAA Constitution, and with the Memorandum of Understanding between Danti and North Esk Dragon Boat Club. The committee also did a clean-up of files, documents, stock and all the paraphernalia collected during the past 10 years. It mostly now resides in four big plastic bins on wheels in Beth’s house.

Paddling time this year has been somewhat disrupted due to the very important rebuilding and improvement of the NERC pontoon. I thank Craig and all the club members who have leapt into the fray to cart the boat and equipment around to the Tailrace as often as possible to ensure we get a paddle on a Saturday morning, even when it is -2degrees.

Once again Ros Lewis engineered a record breaking Bunnings sausage sizzle fundraiser and of course it’s great to see a good club spirit out selling the Record whenever Hawthorn is playing in Launceston. These fundraisers are the lifeblood of our two clubs and I thank all club members who have assisted with these events whenever they can.

Beth, as DAA co-ordinator, attended the DAA biannual Conference in Melbourne in April. This meeting of representatives from all over Australia, many of whom struggle, like us, to keep our small clubs afloat, reinforces for me, the reasons WHY we keep Danti alive and paddling. ie. we offer those who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer a unique environment in which to get active, have fun, and overcome a sense of isolation that this diagnosis can sometimes bring.

In my own words, “Cancer sucks, Paddling rocks”. So let’s get on with life as Dragon Boat Paddlers.

Beth Sowter.