Friday, July 06, 2007

The Dragon Boat Ladies and Lymphedema

Awaken the dragon at Portage

Lakes Friday, June 8, 2007

A Dragon Boat is coming to the Portage Lakes Saturday. The traditional Dragon Dance will be performed during the "Awakening The Dragon Ceremony" at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Craftsmen Park at 4450 Rex Lake Dr. The new Dragon Dream Team is sponsored by Dr. Douglas Wagner.

The group will include paddlers and nonpaddling members who are breast cancer survivors. No other qualification is needed. Dragon Boat teams were launched in 1996 by Dr. Don McKenzie, a sports medicine physician at the University of British Columbia.

His team, Abreast In A Boat, tested the myth that repetitive upper-body exercise in women treated for breast cancer encourages lymphedema. "Dr. McKenzie believed that by following a special exercise and training program, women could avoid lymphedema and enjoy active, full lives," explains the Web site A Breast In A Boat "

As we followed his program, we were carefully monitored by a sports medicine physician, a physiotherapist and a nurse. Dr. McKenzie's theory was proven correct. No new cases of lymphedema occurred and none of the existing cases became worse." The Dragon Boat being launched Saturday at Portage Lakes is a 20-paddler boat (10 sit side-by-side at port and starboard, who use a canoe- type paddle. They follow the commands of a coach who sits in the back. Dragon Boat teams now are located throughout the world, and hold national and international competitions. For information, visit Dragon Dream

At Portage Lakes, the Dragon Boat team will share facilities with Portage Lakes Rowing Association. NATURE CENTER


Area Paddlers Honour Breast Cancer Pioneer Adam Peck

Guelph June 12, 2007

A local group of breast cancer survivors is joining the University of Guelph in honouring sports medicine doctor Dr. Don McKenzie. The BreastStrokes Dragon Boat Team feels that it's McKenzie's work that has empowered them and given them hope in dealing with breast cancer. "After you have breast cancer you tend to feel quite isolated," said Marlene Jofriet, a team member. "He actually did us a great service. We call it a floating support group because you have the camaraderie and the social aspect of it," she said. The BreastStrokes team is completely made up of breast cancer survivors.

Formed in 1998, the team has 30 members of all ages and competes each summer in dragon boat festivals around the province. Following Tuesday's convocation ceremony, where McKenzie will receive an honourary doctorate, he will be presented with Jofriet's painting "Beginnings," commemorating his pioneering work for breast cancer survivors. Jofriet said dragon boating empowered her and other survivors to take action in their recovery. "After you have that, you're not quite sure what you can do.

You can either sit there and mope or be active. I choose to be active," she said. Enter McKenzie and his work. Prior to 1996, doctors told breast cancer patients to avoid strenuous activity and exercise, because it could lead to lymphedema - swelling under the arms where lymphnodes have been removed. Going against the medical science of the day, McKenzie theorized that intense exercise would not cause lymphedema and formed a dragon boat team in 1996 to test his theory.

After the summer's paddling season, the most evident effects the team felt were stronger arms and improved mental health. From those ripples, hundreds of survivor teams now flood dragon boat festivals around the world. Jofriet's painting symbolizes the struggle of breast cancer.

The dark water represents the unknown, the blue sky represents hope and the yellow dragon represents the life line. Jofriet, who has been a team member since 2001, says the team always paddles to win. "I believe in pushing the limits. So that, I do."