by Aleta Thompson, KAB member

About a year after my breast cancer chemotherapy was completed, my doctor suggested I look into Knot A Breast Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Team. The first year I just watched the training from the safety boat. The following year, the team was planning on racing at a festival in Peterborough so my formal training started. It was something I had never done but I caught on soon enough. As time went on the team’s training became a habit for me.

The Peterborough races were the third International Participatory Festival for Breast Cancer Survivors put on by the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC). The IBCPC is an international organization whose mandate is to encourage the establishment of breast cancer dragon boat teams, within the framework of participation and inclusiveness. They support the development of recreational dragon boat paddling as a contribution to a healthy life style for those diagnosed with breast cancer. They work with a host city to put on the IBCPC International Participatory festival every four years. Peterborough was the third host city, June 10-13, 2010. Teams came from Australia, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, USA & Canada.

I was booked to race in Peterborough. Seventy-three teams from all over the world came to race. When Knot A Breast has extra paddlers, we sometimes lend members out to teams that do not have enough paddlers to fill a boat. I was scheduled to race with a team from British Columbia called the Sunshine Dragon. As a newcomer to the sport, I was very excited being in the races. We practiced together and I was hooked. My very first race gave me the greatest thrill to the point that I was in tears! To top it off, Knot A Breast Dragon Boat Team came in first!! Being a participatory festival, everyone gets a medal, but everyone also knows who had the fastest time and crossed the finish line first.

I knew then that I CAN DO ANYTHING; dragon boat racing was in my blood. Thanks goes to my team Knot A Breast – the type of team that works very hard and cares for its members health.