WHEN the team of breast cancer survivors got “bitten by the Dragon” they never expected to make it in a competition in Las Vegas, let alone have it cancelled by a worldwide virus takeover.
Sunshine Coast Dragons Abreast dragon boating team had a rocky start to 2020, with various events cancelled due to inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances.
They got their chance at the State Championships in March where the small team took home silver medals in both 200m and 500m Breast Cancer Survivor races.
But then the COVID-19 lockdown began.
Their plans to attend the Cooloola Dragons Regatta at Tin Can Bay and retaining the Carol Waitohi trophy for the Breast Cancer Survivors race and The Cook 250 Regatta at 1770 were dashed when the events were cancelled.
“The highlight of this year was for our team to travel to Las Vegas to compete at the 12th annual R.E.D. Rose Regatta Dragon Boat Festival,” paddler Jenette Lambert said, which they had been invited to by The Pink Paddlers dragon boat team – the first breast cancer survivor team formed in Las Vegas.
About 50 teams participate over the weekend of racing, with many of them being breast cancer survivor teams from around USA and Canada.
The festival raises funds for responsible early detection of breast cancer for men and women who lack adequate healthcare or financial means to obtain help.
But COVID-19 also had other plans.
“We had been looking forward to the trip after doing so well at the Queensland State Championships in March,” Audra Kearney said.
“Sadly we have postponed our paddle against some of the top American breast-cancer teams.”
Vivienne Williams was recovering from a breast cancer diagnosis and several surgeries when she joined the team of women in 2018 who had all been through a similar circumstance.
The vibrant, energetic club has great enthusiasm for the sport and has given its members the chance to travel overseas and throughout Australia.
She said while the virus curtailed their normal fundraising ventures that supported them travelling to these events, their dreams are still alive.
“(We’re) trying to support our members through this time with the use of a single craft for water training and regular exercise classes on Zoom,” Ms Williams said.
“The importance of supporting each other on and off the water through this time is a priority for us all.”
Robyn Davidson said she was training three days a week prior to the restrictions, and while the single outriggers were great to keep up fitness “it’s not the same as having 10 or 20 paddlers in the boat”.
Sunshine Coast Dragons Abreast are compiling a virtual cookbook especially for dragon boat paddlers, including recipes for training, regattas and celebrations.
This will be sold worldwide to all paddling clubs as a fundraising effort.
If you are a breast cancer survivor and interested in joining, email [email protected] or ring Jenette on 0416186953.