Feature Story                                                                                                   Sunday, June 14, 2015


Breast Friends

Spirit Abreast paddlers set lofty goals for this season

By Sherry Dunn, Spirit Abreast Dragon Boat Club


Spirit Abreast Dragon Boat Club team ride the pink tractor and walk under the dragon last year in the Cultus Lake parade. Voice file photo. Below, new captain, Cathy Terpstra sports the team's new jersey.


ur team of breast cancer survivors and supporters are celebrating the "20 year Paddle Party" for Abreast in a Boat in False Creek, the original breast cancer survivor team to start dragon boating along with dragon boat teams throughout the world on the 13th of June. To mark this occasion in the Fraser Valley, we are inviting our own alumnae to join us in The Cultus Lake Days Parade.


Richard and Barb Laffere with the Atchelitz Thresher men's Association in Chilliwack will join our team with their pink tractor to raise awareness for cancer research. Richard's wife, Barb, is also a recent breast cancer survivor. We are planning to practice in our pink dragon boat, "Spirit", in the morning before the parade, and everyone will wear pink paraphernalia.


We are celebrating our members "in the pink of health" in the Cultus Lake Days Parade too. We are marking our own 13th year in 2015 of following our motto of "Keep Smiling" in Spirit Abreast.


We would also like to introduce our new members, resulting from the media support for the Meet and Greet event, introduce our new team captain, Cathy Terpstra, and introduce our new racing uniform, dedicated to our recently deceased captain, Marie Shepherd. The racing shirts were designed by an artist who also happens to be a breast cancer survivor as well as a current team member of Spirit Abreast.


The team is also very excited about the rejuvenation we have experienced with our coach, Sherry Hunt. Sherry's efforts in honing our technique and skills has enabled our new paddlers to learn the skills to race abreast of veterans in this sport. We all have a sense of renewal this year. We've set many goals for this year and we are well on the way to achieving them.


Our results at the False Creek Regatta on May 23rd created such a sense of excitement for all paddlers, veterans and those new to the sport. Our Captain, Cathy Terpstra, has high praise for everyone who is part of the team: all the paddlers, our steersman, Graham Houlker, and our drummer for the day, Emma Graham. Cathy was particularly proud and excited with the committed hard work of our very new paddlers, one of whom has only recently finished treatments in late February.

We'd like to share the excitement and enthusiasm of our team with the public so more survivors would be encouraged to experience the wonderful support system for cancer patients and their families that being a member of our team provides. As well, dragon boat paddling is a great way to rehabilitate after surgery and lower risks for reoccurrence of cancer with physical activity and camaraderie.


The team paddles out of Cultus Lake and being out in nature is great for mental and physical health as well. Thanks so much in anticipation of your support. We are a fun and friendly team working on education and prevention strategies for better health and a future without cancer.


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