History of dragon boating for breast cancer survivors

the first dragon boat cancer survivor team was launched by a concerned medical group headed by dr. don mCkenzie at the ubc sports medical centre in january 1996 to test the theory of limiting repetitive upper body activities to prevent lymphedema.

Lymphedema is a painful and incapacitating swelling of the arm and chest area that can develop anytime after breast surgery and the removal of lymph nodes.  back in 1996 medical advise suggested that women who had breast surgery must limit physical activities, particularly repetitive upper movement (such as cross country skiing and canoeing) in order to not develop lymphedema.  this affected both the quality of life and enjoyment of life for many women.

a six week training program prepared twenty-four women with breast cancer for the strenuous upper body demands of dragon boatING.

would they develop lymphedema? would they injure themseLVes? the initial goal was to participate in the Vancouver International boat festival. twenty-four women competed and finished. this was the beginning of the very first breast cancer survivor dragon boat team. abreast in a boat!

there are now more than 50 breast cancer teams in canada and over 210 worldwide.

the very first all survivor dragon boat races were celebrated in vancouver in 2005. in 2007 the survivor dragon boat race was held in australia. Peterborough ontario was host to the international dragon boat festival for breast cancer suvivors in 2010. sarasota florida hosted the 2014 international dragon boat festival for breast cancer survors. in 2018, florence italy will host the international dragon boat festival for breast cancer survors.