Passers-by may well have looked twice when they saw the lion dance performed by the UK Shaolin Temple, and Councillor David Kelsey, the Mayor of Bournemouth, dotting the protruding eyes of the dragonhead carved on the boat, thus ending its slumber.
It was all for a good cause. Pink Champagne Breast Cancer Survivors Dragon Boat team – the only all breast cancer survivor crew in the South presented the dotting of the eye ceremony at the launch of their new dragon boat at the Hengistbury Head Outdoor Centre, on the River Stour, Christchurch harbour.
The charity provides support to members following their cancer treatments and they can be found paddling the boat regularly on Saturday mornings all year round and Monday evenings in the summer on the River Stour.
The sound of the drum combined with the distinctive boats and paddlers decked out in pink is guaranteed to turn heads, and that is before people see the writing on the boat identifying them as a Breast Cancer Survivors team. The sound of clapping and boat horns tooting is part of the norm.
“Our new 20-man boat has been purchased with funding provided by the Postcode Community Trust. This grant-giving charity is funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery,” said co-chair of Pink Champagne, Jo Keating.
Jo went on to explain that breast cancer survivors’ dragon boating is an international movement inspired by the research of Canadian sports medicine specialist Don McKenzie.
In 1995 he challenged the myth that after breast cancer surgery, upper body exercise should be limited as it increases blood flow and could cause lymphoedema.
It was subsequently proven that the opposite is true, and Dragon Boating in fact decreases the risk of lymphoedema.
Numerous studies, which included a team of Italian researchers in 2014, found that regular paddling was associated with a decrease in oxidative stress levels, which is associated with a reduced risk of postsurgical lymphoedema.
And the benefits are said to go much further. These days, physical exercise is a mainstream complementary therapy for cancer survivors—and it’s backed by evidence.
“Dragon boat racing is growing and has become an international movement with hundreds of teams participating across the globe who hope to inspire and encourage other breast cancer survivors,” said Jo.
Pink Champagne Breast Cancer Survivors Dragon Boat Team have competed Worldwide, representing the UK, bringing home many winning trophies in the breast cancer category and hope to continue to do so in the future.
Jo said: “Being part of the team has so many benefits, physical as well as mental wellbeing. No one understands your cancer journey like someone who has been through it. We have been brought together by a common bond and have made friendships that otherwise would not have happened. I love that Pink Champagne has such a varied range of members, our oldest being in their 80s, and our youngest in their 30s.”
If you have been through Breast Cancer treatment, whether it’s recently or 20+ years ago, and would be interested in a trial paddle, or would just like to find out more about this charity, please visit https://pinkchampagne.org.uk/
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