A breast cancer survivors dragon boat team is trading oars for little black dresses, as they take the night to celebrate the sport that pushes them forward.
Bosom Buddies of Nova Scotia was founded in 1998 and is the province’s first dragon boat team of its kind.
Currently it has 72 members and three dragon boats — two on Lake Banook in Dartmouth and one on Maders Cove in Lunenburg County.
“There is life after breast cancer and what we like to do is demonstrate that,” says Debbie Pottie, who has been a member of Bosom Buddies for 19 years. “If we are in the boat, we don’t talk about breast cancer; we are talking about improving our skills.”
Breast cancer survivors’ dragon boating began in Vancouver and is now an international movement, according to Pottie. She says the idea came from a sports medicine physician at the University of British Columbia who started a research project to prove upper body exercise is beneficial to breast cancer recovery.
“When the research project was finished, the ladies wanted to continue paddling,” she says.
A member of the Vancouver research team founded Bosom Buddies of Nova Scotia when she moved to the province.
Pottie says her personal recovery after fighting the disease throughout 1999 wouldn’t have been as hopeful without the sport or her fellow dragon boaters.
“When I heard about it, I couldn’t believe they paddled three times a week and thought I wouldn’t have the time,” she explains. “My first day in the boat, it became my priority and everything else came second.”
She describes Bosom Buddies to be unlike other support groups.
“The main difference is that for us we are moving forward,” she says. “The whole purpose of the team is to help each other through physical and emotional development.”
Pottie says it shed new light on her battle with cancer.
“We often say it is the gift of cancer that has given us the opportunity to get to know each other,” she says.
The team is on the water as soon as the ice is gone in April until about the middle of October, according to Pottie. During the off-season months, she says the team continues training at a gym.
She says the next race Bosom Buddies of Nova Scotia will be competing in is the World Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Festival in Florence, Italy, in early June next year.
Marylin Hergett has been involved with Bosom Buddies since 2004 and says the team needs to raise money to keep its boats on the water.
“We have a minimum membership fee to make it accessible for all breast cancer survivors, but that also means it doesn’t cover the cost of all our expenses,” she says.
Hergett and Pottie are co-chairs of the team’s main fundraiser, Ladies Little Black Dress Night, which is being held on Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Via Rail station on Hollis Street in Halifax.
“Although we are all in little black dresses, what’s amazing about this event is that every one of them looks different,” says Pottie.
The all ages and all female event has sold out with more than 200 attendees each year since it was first organized in 2014.
Hergett says guests can expect delicious hors d’oeuvres, exciting door prizes, an entertaining photo booth, a silent auction, 50-50 draw and wine bar.
Tickets are $30 and are only available in advance. Those interested can order tickets by emailing email@example.com or calling 902-423-2346.
The Chronicle Herald
September 4, 2017