Rowing past breast cancer

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 09 Jun 2004

PENANG: Six breast cancer survivors from South Australia will be among rowers participating in this year's 25th Anniversary Penang International Dragon Boat Festival next week. 

They are part of the South Aussie Dragons Abreast (Sada) team, the South Australian club of the Dragons Abreast Australia group of breast cancer survivors who spread the message of breast cancer awareness through participation in dragon boat races. 

Sada team co-ordinator for the Penang squad Lynn Hill in her e-mail said an 11-member team comprising breast cancer survivors and supporters would be sent for the event. 

“We look forward to paddling in the women's races under the South Aussie Dragons Abreast and in the mixed team's races under the Aussie Vipers,” she said. 

Team of survivors: The South Australian team of breast cancer survivors.

According to the Dragons Abreast Australia website at, a group of Australian women learnt in 1998 about the then two-year-old existence of dragon boat teams in Canada consisting of breast cancer survivors. 

The sport picked up among survivors in Australia, and the national organisation was officially set up in September 1999. The South Australian club was formed in October 2001. 

Hill said Sada had over 30 survivors, including a man, aged between 28 and 66 years, and 20 supporters. The club is also affiliated to the Dragon Boat Association of South Australia. 

The club's recent achievements in racing include winning the silver medal in the Breast Cancer Challenge and gold in the Social team events at the Australian Masters Games in Canberra. They also won two silver medals in the Breast Cancer Challenge of the Club Crew World Championships in Cape Town, South Africa, in April. 

“We are turning our scars into stars. We are celebrating life and showing the nation and the world that there is life after breast cancer,” said Hill. 

Hill also said that several members had lost their battle with cancer, including founder Carlene Butavicius who died in January 2002 just three months after their club was launched. 

Sada is one of 25 foreign teams from 10 countries that will participate in the PIDBF at the Teluk Bahang Dam from June 18 to 20. 

PIDBF executive secretary Chin Yin Fat said the team's participation had generated interest and excitement among fellow breast cancer survivors in Malaysia and Singapore, who would be attending the festival to meet the team. 

Reach To Recovery International president Ranjit Kaur, who is the Breast Cancer Welfare Association president in Malaysia, said she would be at the festival with about 22 breast cancer survivors from Kuala Lumpur. 

She said she was interested in setting up teams in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor. 

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