Breast cancer survivors prove dragon boat paddling is best medicine

Dragons Abreast Melbourne Pink Phoenix

Hundreds of breast cancer survivors from around Australia and New Zealand will come together to participate in the inaugural Pink Paddle Power Regatta in a bid to prove that dragon boat paddling is one of the best ways to recover after breast cancer treatment.

On Saturday 3 December, Melbourne will host the first international breast cancer survivors’ regatta in Australia to be run by a state dragon boat organisation, Dragon Boat Victoria.

‘We are proud to be the first Australian dragon boat organisation to run a breast cancer survivors’ regatta and we hope to showcase to the wider community the physical and emotional benefits of dragon boat paddling post cancer treatment.’ – CEO of Dragon Boat Victoria, Craig Ryan

Eight 12 meter long, 20 seat boats, with a drummer at the front and steer person at the back, will take to Docklands Harbor for a day of racing and fun!

The day will also include a spectacular Pink Lion dance presented by the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne and a Flowers on the Water ceremony.

In the evening the Bolte Bridge will light up in pink as guests attend the PPP Regatta Ball at Marvel Stadium.

‘Doctors saved our lives. Dragon boating saved our spirits’, says Kim Bonomo, dragon boater and breast cancer survivor.

When you hear the words ‘breast cancer’ you may not immediately think of dragon boats, but according to the International Breast Cancer Paddling Commission (IBCPC) there are more than 290 breast cancer survivor dragon boat crews all over the world.

Dragon boating originated in China over 2000 years ago and became a beacon of hope for those living with breast cancer in 1996. Dr Don McKenzie, a Canadian sports medicine physiologist, designed a paddling program to help improve the fitness and mental health of women after treatment for breast cancer. Abreast In A Boat, the first breast cancer survivor dragon boat crew in the world, was formed not long after.

The pink paddling phenomenon spread across the globe as breast cancer survivors quickly saw the benefits of paddling. The movement began in Australia when Michelle Hanton OAM attended the first Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) Summit in 1998 where she heard about the sport. Michelle later established the first breast cancer survivor paddling team and was the inaugural chair of Dragons Abreast Australia.

‘Dragons Abreast might just have saved my life,’ says Michelle Hanton.

Major health organisations will also be in attendance at the regatta, including Dragons Abreast Australia, Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA), Look Good Feel Better, Think Pink Foundation, Amoena and So Brave.

The following day, on Sunday 4 December at 9.30am and 10.00am, a small fleet of dragon boats will paddle from Docklands to the Princes Bridge and back for the Yarra River Paddle.

Dragons Abreast Melbourne Pink Phoenix, a member group of Dragons Abreast Australia, is the host club of the Pink Paddle Power Regatta and has liaised closely with Dragon Boat Victoria and Dragons Abreast Australia to help organise the event.

The Pink Paddle Power Regatta will be a visually spectacular event not to be missed. We invite you to join us in a joyous celebration of life after a diagnosis of breast cancer.

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