The idea of breast cancer survivors racing in dragon boats comes as no surprise to those who regularly attend dragon boat festivals around the world. It was long thought by medical professionals that breast cancer survivors needed to limit upper body exercise in order to prevent upper extremity lymphedema, a complication that often occurs as the result of surgery or radio therapy. Thanks especially to research conducted by medical professionals such as Don McKenzie, MD of Vancouver, Canada, the women and some men who survive this devastating diagnosis now find that a full and active life is possible.
A recent article in Cancer Nursing describes results of a study related to the effectiveness of dragon boat practice in preventing lymphedema. Women who engaged in dragon boating were shown to have a lower presence of symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, pain and dyspnea and a better perception of quality of life. To read more about this research, go to http://ibcpc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Italian-Study-July-2018.pdf
So, dragon boating for breast cancer survivors is not just about racing. When we paddle to the starting line our mindset is on the race and how to win it; but, at the end of the day, we know that our training and preparation have meant much more than a medal earned. We have found a way to live a full and active life.