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Bringing Dragon Boating to Breast Cancer Survivors in Fiji Posted on: 04 March 2020

With breast cancer the most common cancer diagnosed in Fiji, some of our members and Board jumped at the opportunity to volunteer in a dragon boating outreach program, which saw boats, equipment and training provided to local breast cancer survivors.

Professor Don McKenzie, the founder of dragon boating for breast cancer recovery joined The International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC) and DAA members in Fiji for the program which saw them teaching novice paddlers the fundamentals of dragon boating. 

‘There were tears of joy as we watched shy and very tentative women (and a couple of men) gain confidence’, said volunteer Roslyn Webb. 

We look forward to seeing dragon boating for breast cancer recovery, grow and thrive in Fiji.

More words from Ros –

I had not been to Fiji before and when the opportunity came up, it sounded like a fun thing to do. I was going to help teach novice paddlers. I was prepared for the fun and sun, but not prepared for the tears.

There were tears of joy as we watched shy and very tentative women (and a couple of men) gain confidence.  There were several who stated very early that they were just there to watch, they were definitely not going in the boat.  Then on day two they stepped in the boat. Most of us paddlers know what happens then. On day three they just got in the boat without prompting, We had many more paddlers than would fit in the one boat, so everyone needed to wait. So we needed to politely explain to those initially reluctant women, that it wasn’t their turn right now and they would need to get out of the boat.  

There were tears of sadness, when we heard about their lack of medical facilities that we all take for granted. There is no radiation available, IF they have medical insurance they can go to India for treatment.  There were absolute horror stories about surgeries gone wrong.  

There were tears of laughter when we all danced impromptu, shared funny stories and listened to the ladies sing. 

 And of cause lots of tears when we said good bye to both our new Fijian friends and also our new paddling friends from Canada and USA. 

I am sure that at some stage I’ll go back.