Toronto, Canada is rejoicing our highly anticipated summer season and with that, the waters of Lake Ontario are burgeoning with powerful women and men. Many on the water are aboard Dragon boats and known as the ’Pink Ladies”, or ‘Dragons Abreast’. These women are channeling their struggles through the force of their paddles meeting the water, churning the lake into a brilliant display of momentum and strength. They’re refreshed to be in the boat following the ‘dry season’ due to our long Canadian winter, when ice clots the lake.
The Dragons Abreast Toronto team has defied the odds of their own individual battles with breast cancer. Their teamwork and engagement in sport has forged friendships, enabling them to conquer their despair and confusion and reemerge into community. Not only are these women active members of a sport team, they have found beauty in their struggle through sport.
The Pink Ladies Prevail! Qualifying for the World's Dragon Boat Championship in France 2020.
Let us introduce you to some of the strong and courageous team members and what makes them feel ‘gorgeous’.
“My name is Florianne Yeung, I was diagnosed at age 40 and once again at 46. Being struck by breast cancer twice made me humble, kind, compassionate and more vulnerable, those experiences made feel gorgeous. Life is Gorgeous!”
“My name is Doreen Davenport. I was 49 when I received my first diagnosis and had a reoccurrence one year, later at age 50. Having my hair done in a great style makes me feel gorgeous!”
“I am Christine Seki and was 47 when diagnosed. Travelling to other places and dragon boat racing makes me feel gorgeous.”
“My name is Joanna Chrystal. I was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 53 with stage 3 breast cancer. I was going to say that I was upgraded to Stage 4 in 2002 but I think downgraded would be more appropriate. I joined Dragons Abreast in 2000 and there has been no looking back. The team has filled me with joy and convinced me that everything is possible and dragon boating has made us athletes. Nothing is more beautiful than that!”
“I am Shelley McCaughtry and I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 42. Following treatment that included chemotherapy, radiation, surgery to remove my breasts, and hormone therapy that put me into menopause. I lost every hair on my body and endured what seemed like endless nausea, pain, hot flashes, and fatigue. Did I feel gorgeous throughout? Surprisingly, yes I did. Hair or no hair, boobs or no boobs, slim thighs or flabby ones— feeling beautiful was and is fuelled by an inner well of happiness. My gorgeous sexy life is bolstered by the blessings of a loving husband, close family, wonderful friends, and everything that I have to look forward to."
“My name is Audrey Marks and I was 42 when diagnosed. What makes me feel gorgeous are massages, pedicures, and fresh makeup. And of course compliments!”
“My name is Barb Cooke. I was diagnosed at age 49. Being on the water in our dragon boat surrounded by my beautiful, kind, supportive teammates, working together as one, and feeling the sense of belonging makes me feel gorgeous.”
“I am Yasmin Alladin. I was diagnosed at 38. What makes me feel gorgeous is my beautiful soul.”
“My name is Akaash Singh and I was diagnosed at age 44. What makes me feel gorgeous is strength and love."
“My name is Cheryl Innis. I was 44 when diagnosed and I feel gorgeous when I am physically, mentally & emotionally strong. (A good hair day is a bonus!)”
“I am Valerie Mazola and was diagnosed at age 59. I feel gorgeous when I can put on pretty bras following my breast reconstruction.”
“My name is Deborah Peniuk and I was diagnosed at age 44. What makes me feel gorgeous? When I am feeling empowered in my natural self. When I feel powerful and confident it makes me feel like the glorious LEO that I am is still there, getting ready to ROAR. Gorgeous doesn’t have to equate with beauty, which is subjective regardless. When my eyes and lips become my focus it also doesn’t matter if I have hair or not.”
“I am Mary Thomson Richards and I was diagnosed at 54 years of age. What makes me feel “gorgeous” is actually twofold: one, when I do something I thought I couldn’t by challenging myself self and two, when I can help someone out and do a good turn…”
“I am Lori Preston-Meme. I was first diagnosed at age 42 with breast cancer that metastasized. What makes me feel gorgeous is my newfound confidence, being comfortable in my own skin, and my acknowledgment of my skills as a true athlete. My athletic skills and the ‘gorgeous’ feeling derived from them is solely due to my many years on the Dragons Abreast team.
“My name is Anne Melmer. I was first diagnosed in 1997 at age 45. What makes me feel gorgeous is my relationship with the Dragon boat women, and the knowledge that life goes on— it does. These courageous women have taught me to be alive and willing to take a leap of faith. So far my life has been like a roller coaster— many ups and downs, but I have endured and have learned [through our bond] I will survive: Paddles up!”
If you live in the Toronto area and are a breast cancer survivor, the Dragons Abreast Team would love to meet you. They are hosting an 'OPEN BOAT' on August 6th & 8th at 7:30 pm at the Sunnyside Paddling Club. For more information please contact DBnewmembers@gmail.com or 416-561-3371. You can also visit their website www.dragonsabreast.ca
If you live outside of the Toronto area and reside within Canada or the United States, please visit the International Breast Cancer Paddlers' Commission to find a team near you.
To find out more information on the sport of Dragon Boat racing as a Breast Cancer Survivor, you may find this blog post helpful.
Struggling to find comfortable and feminine options post-mastectomy? Here are just a few of our most popular products. To see our full collection, please visit www.gorgeousyoustyle.com