Being surrounded by more than 3,500 breast cancer survivors pushed the Survivorship dragon boat team in Sarasota, Fla.
They paddled to 18th overall among 103 teams in the fourth International Breast Cancer Festival and also finished first in the B category, while having the 10th best time.
Going head-to-head against younger teams, Survivorship member Cathie Lauer said with their age (the average is 64) that makes a “huge difference.” The results they were able to earn is significant because of that.
“We really excelled. I know our coach Don (Mulhall) didn’t expect quite that performance,” said Lauer, adding that the group was amazed. Heading into the event which took place in late October, Survivorship didn’t expect to place in the top 25. “We were racing against some pretty tough competition.”
Competing in the event that featured teams from eight countries, including 46 from Canada, was motivational for Survivorship.
“It’s just inspiring to see that many woman out there and living their life not sitting back and feeling sorry for themselves,” said Lauer. “Everybody is in pink. It’s very emotional.”
“There is a tremendous feeling that we are pulling together to spread breast cancer awareness and support our sister survivors,” said Survivorship team manager Lois Fedoruk in a release.
While in Sarasota, Lauer said the group enjoyed the camaraderie, but also seeing the immense growth of how global the event has become.
“It’s just such an amazing thing that was started in British Columbia,” said Lauer. “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
Lauer said they encourage women to join their group regardless of age or fitness level. It’s about being part of an incredible support system.
“We don’t really sit around and talk about breast cancer,” she said. “We never do really unless someone is rediagnosed.”
Survivorship also launched a program called Tomorrow’s Hope, which offers one-on-one support, information and resources to all South Okanagan residents diagnosed with breast cancer. The goal is to help them navigate the confusing, scary process of dealing with their diagnosis.
Lauer said they want to make sure that every woman who is diagnosed contacts them so they can help.
“It’s just amazing support,” she said.
For more information, contact Lauer at 250-809-1857 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check their website at www.survivorshipteam.org.