AMHERST – This year’s dragon boat race is going to be a special one. The ’tit Bateau breast cancer survivors dragon boat team, based out of Moncton New Brunswick, will be celebrating their 10th anniversary out on the water.
Cumberland County resident Terry Gilroy is just one of the team’s paddlers who is excited for this year’s race.
Gilroy was first diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of the cancer that can’t be detected by mammography, in 2006. While going through treatment, Gilroy found the dragon boat team and joined.
“It really instills that you can survive this and that breast cancer isn’t a death sentence,” she said.
For their anniversary, the team will have a special banquet before the race. Then, the teams will take to the water for the pink carnation ceremony in honour of those who have lost their lives to the disease and those who are still fighting. The race begins after that.
“They’re going to be tough (to beat),” said Eleanor Ripley-Barrow, a breast cancer survivor out of Collingwood who paddles with the team out of Truro, Team S.O.S. “It’s their anniversary and they’re going to be pumped.”
Both survivors agree that joining the team was very much like joining a support group. They said being with other survivors, having a good time and sometimes even relying on each other for strength played a role in helping themselves and others deal with the disease.
“It makes you realize that it’s not a life sentence,” said Gilroy. “It’s a real support.”
“We inspire each other,” added Ripley-Barrow.
Although the team practices haven’t started just yet for Gilroy, she said she makes sure she keeps in shape by curling in the offseason. Ripley-Barrow however has a bit of an advantage. Her team is able to practice at an indoor pool.
Both women said their teams are always looking for new members. In fact, they said they are the only two survivors in Cumberland County to be part of a dragon boat team.
Any breast cancer survivors interested in joining the team out of Moncton can contact Gilroy at 667-5972. Anyone interested in joining the team out of Truro can contact Ripley-Barrow at 230-2111.