“Preserve your memories. They’re all that’s left you”


Even with her energy and health fading, Susan raced with her team in Vancouver and in Dartmouth. She had a great love of reading, music and dance, as well as, Bosom Buddies.

Her first steps, though cautious, began immediately to reinforce her faith in greater possibilities.”


One of the original members of Bosom Buddies, Margaret had a beautiful smile and managed to paddle even while she was quite ill. She designed the team’s first brochure, Paddling for Life-Pulling Together.

The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it in turn will look sourly at you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly, kind companion.”


An active paddler with the South Shore crew, Berndette also raced in Dartmouth and Toronto. The support, friendship and love shown to Berndette by Bosom Buddies was a wonderful part of her life.

Be strong and courageous for you are not alone.”


Also an original member, Norma enjoyed her time practicing and racing with her buddies on Lake Banook. Her sense of fairness and social justice will be remembered by all those she knew.

One of the greatest pleasures in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”


An original buddy, Jean was greatly encouraged when she discovered she had the strength to paddle in a dragonboat. She had been challenged by many health problems and couldn’t believe she could do it.

Strength does not come from physical comes from an indomitable will.”


A co-founder of Bosom Buddies, Margo soon discovered that the group had an energy all of it’s own. Margo began our “Circle of Strength” , initially in Vancouver, to help calm us down before our first race. This ritual continues still because it reminds us that together we draw strength from one another and together offer great strength to others.

Coming together is a beginning
Keeping together is progress
Working together is a success.”


Carol Wood Crossman
Carol once said that the first time she paddled in a dragonboat she became “hooked”, that “something magical happened.” She told us never to lose hope, enjoy every day, keep fit and positive and to learn the facts. Her sense of fun and flair will be remembered always.

I believe friends are quiet angels who lift our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

Angela Vecchio-Ozmon

Angela Vecchio-Ozmon

Angela Vecchio-Ozmon once said “If I can inspire someone to change their life then I have accomplished my mission.” Angela expressed regret that she did not have the time and health to paddle longer with her buddies.

The one thing you cannot bank is time.”


Ginny Luck
Whenever Ginny felt scared or weak she would say to herself ” you got it back, so paddle well, work hard, enjoy the feeling and don’t let it go. It’s not often we get a second chance to do something we love.” Ginny always worked hard and dreamt big. Even when her illness claimed her paddling ability, she sat at the front of the boat and encouraged us.

Above all they are the bravest and the best.”


A devoted team player, Mabel drove from Antigonish three times a week to paddle with her team. Her coaching background, amazing strength and strong will made her a true competitor.

As we go through life, we win some and we lose some, but the true meaning of a person is not how we handle our winnings, but how we cope with our losses.”

Eunice Gaskell

Eunice was a Bosom Buddy in the early paddling days. She lead the warm ups aways cheerful and energetic. Eunice’s mother, Muriel Smiley, also a breast cancer survivor of 37 years, currently leads her team of family and supporters “Smiley’s Connection” every year at the CIBC Run for the Cure.

Ability is what you are capable of doing, Motivation determines what you do, Atitude determines how well you do it.”


When she joined Bosom Buddies, Susanna brought her paddling ability and contributed her skills in public relations, serving on the team executive. She loved being in nature….. paddling with her friends and found this calmed her spirit. She drew great power from the Circle of Strength.

It is a fact, that in the right foundation, the lifting power of many wings can achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.”


Beth Coolen
She loved to paddle in the fresh air with her buddies. The energy, power, challenge of the sport and friendships were things she enjoyed the most. To Beth, the pink carnation ceremony meant tears, remembering and celebrating life.

The friends who mean the most to us are those who instead of giving advice, solutions or cures have chosen to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm tender hand.”

Shirley Vardy

Shirley Vardy
Shirley truely enjoyed the camaraderie, the exercise of paddling , the chance to explore beautiful Mahone Bay, and the special energy being with a team. In her words:

No matter what may be happening in our lives, there is always a closeness- sometimes with laughter, sometimes in silence, and this closeness somehow feeds your own strength.”

Linda Durling

Linda Durling a.k.a. “Thumper” was an original buddy , the keeper of “Scorch” the dragon, and excellent drummer.

Hi I like to paddle- it sure keeps me fit.
But I also like drumming- more than a bit.
My drumsticks are ready- they reach to the sun.
And come down real hard when we’re under the gun.”

Shirley Jollimore-Perry

Shirley AKA “Shirl the Pearl” was an athlete and a gem indeed. She brought to Bosom Buddies a sense of fun and celebration.

We cannot change the direction of the wind…but we can adjust our sails.”

Andrea Harrold

Andrea Harrold had wonderful memories of Bosom Buddies first race in Vancouver. She was proud to be a team member and an athlete. She was committed to the buddies and in her profession. Andrea felt blessed to have been born into such a loving family and lucky to have such great friends. We will always miss her practical manner and quick British humor. ” Andrea hopes that we all will continue to beat lane 11.”

Then furl the sail, let fall the oar, forget the paths of foam!
The power that made me wonder far at last has brought me home
To thee, dear haven of my heart, and I no more will roam.”

Mary McCarroll

Although not with Bosom Buddies for a long time when it came to learning how to paddle a dragon boat Mary was a “quick study.” She was focused, committed and helpful to others.

I’ll never reach my destination, if I never try
So I will sail my vessel ’til the river runs dry.”

Mary Woodroffe

Mary Woodroffe
Mary was a determined committed Bosom Buddy. She contributed tirelessly on committees, was a feisty drummer, and an awesome cheerleader. She appreciated all the care and support she received from her Buddies.

Deep peace of the running waves. Deep peace of the flowing air. Deep peace of the quiet earth. Deep peace of the shining stars to you.”

Rose Bechtel

Our buddy Rose Bechtel had a warm energetic personality and a great love of people. She was a wonderful B.B. contributing much time to listening ,providing comfort, and connecting us to additional resources for breast cancer survivors. She is missed by many.

The days of wine and roses laugh and run away like a child at play
Through a meadowland toward a closing door
A door marked nevermore ,that wasn’t there before

Kathe LeJeune

An original member of Bosom Buddies Kathe “get er done” LeJeune was passionate and creative. She was a wonderful mentor and friend to many. Memories of her courage ,faith, and sense of fun will always be with us.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”

Betty MacDonald

Betty MacDonald
Betty was grateful that she went with her instincts and joined Bosom Buddies as a way of healing. She was proud to be part of a team with purpose, goals, and a drive to accomplish. She served as treasurer and on the finance committee. Support and caring were always there for her and from this she found strength. “It was good for the body and the soul.”

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing.
It sounds and echoes in my soul,
how can I keep from singing?

Contributed by Lee MacDonald

Janet Lynn Hutt

Janet Hutt
Just when we were getting to know you………………..

Janet was not with us for a long time before she was diagnosed with a terminal recurrence, but that time was meaningful and brought with it another source of support that helped her to keep her spirits up and fight as long as she could. She was proud to be a Buddy.

Friendship doubles our joy and divides our pain

Vicki Wilson

Vicki Wilson
Vicki was an active Buddy from 2005 and paddled with her Buddies in festivals across Canada. At the 2010 International BC Festival in Peterborough, Ontario she paddled with an Australian team. Vicki was active on committees and enjoyed the team’s social activities.
When she was diagnosed with a recurrence she fought back as a warrior would fight. Vicki used every bit of her strength, courage, hope and determination in her battle with cancer. Her illness never interfered with her concern for others.

Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible

Pamela Hughes

Pamela Hughes
Sadly Pam left this world unexpectedly due to an accident. Her life was filled with her family, her passion for music and her students, and her love of animals. Pam brought her ideas and thoughts to our meetings and joined us socially when she could. We will remember her cheerfulness and her smile.

A bird doesn’t sing because it has a message, it sings because it has a song
-Maya Angelou

Kathleen Murray

Kathleen Murray
Kathleen paddled on the Mahone Bay with our South Shore crew from 2003 until ill health caused her to stop recently. She enjoyed the physical exercise in the boat, and the camaraderie. After she stopped paddling, she continued to socialize with the Buddies. Kathleen was a very gentle woman, kind hearted, and always a lady.

Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength
–Ralph W. Sockman

Yvonne MacGregor

Yvonne MacGregor
Yvonne was a dedicated and committed Buddy.  When she joined our team in 2009, Yvonne brought with her a warm personality, enthusiasm, commitment and a desire to help the Buddies how ever she could.  She paddled regularly, served on the team executive in two capacities and excelled as fundraising chair.  Yvonne was also a part of our social activities and retreats. She attended the 2010 International BC Festival in Peterborough and paddled with an Australian team.

My mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style
– Maya Angelou

Barbara Lawson

Barb Lawson

Barb joined the Buddies in early 2011. She loved paddling on “her” lake and enjoyed the team camaraderie. While the paddling and attending away festivals was fun and rewarding for Barb, she also took an active part in other aspects of the team. Barb served on the team executive as our Membership Chair for three years. She took good care of each new Buddy helping them to get established with the team. Barb was kind, gracious and always eager to help. As Membership Chair, she worked on planning our annual retreats and enjoyed those social times. Barb expected to travel to Sarasota this past October to paddle with her Buddies in the 2014 IBCPC Participatory Dragon Boat Festival but unfortunately her health situation did not allow that to happen.

So long as we live, they too shall live
For they are now a part of us as we remember them
– Gates of Prayer

Mary Elizabeth Mader Smith

Mary came to the Buddies in 2005 and brought with her so many talents. She was then valiantly living with metastatic breast cancer. Mary loved being a buddy and participated in all aspects of the team. She was a competitive paddler and rarely missed a practice at Lake Banook. She travelled with her buddies to festivals all across Canada, and paddled with the team in the International Festival in Peterborough, Ontario in 2010. Mary served on various committees over the years and willingly dedicated countless hours to fundraising, team ops, PR, and any other team activities she could help with. She was our president in 2009. Mary was the poster girl for the definition “strong woman”. She leaves a legacy of courage, strength, hard work, charm, kindness and a warm caring attitude for those privileged to know her.

There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in our hearts.
– Mahatma Ghandi


Donna Gillis

Donna became a buddy in 2013. She was very physically fit and understood the value of fitness for all buddies, and especially those paddling competitively. When she led our workouts before practice or festivals she excelled in her workout leadership. Donna was part of the competitive crew that paddled in the IBCPC’s festival in Sarasota, FL in October 2014.
She served on the executive as membership chair. Donna spent a lot of time and energy as initial contact for potential new members, and was constant in her efforts to encourage and help breast cancer survivors join our team. She was a great advocate for new members making sure they were orientated and enjoying the support, exercise, fun and camaraderie the team offers. Donna left us suddenly and her energy, spunk, as well as her contributions to the growth of the team are missed.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you
– Fred DeVito


We met Verlene in April 2008 when she became a buddy.  Verlene was happy, and had the most brilliant smile.  Verlene’s family, faith, friends and music were the mainstays in her life.  She had a beautiful voice and loved to sing.  Music was such a big part of her life.  She wrote a song, Bosom Buddies Paddling Song, for the team.  Verlene lived with breast cancer since her diagnosis 25 years ago undergoing many forms of treatment but regardless of where she was in her treatment cycle she radiated hope.   Despite her health situation, Verlene contributed to the team in so many ways.  She paddled on a regular basis as long as she physically could, attended festivals across Canada with the team and an international festival in 2010 in Peterborough, Ontario.  She also served on the executive as PR chair and team secretary.  Verlene was also part of numerous committees over the years.  Our fondest shared memory is the night in early September when her husband brought her to practice at the lake, a short time before she passed, and we all enjoyed being together one last time.

You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone
Nobody will ever find me
But I will always be around
Just like the songs I leave behind me
I’m gonna live forever now

From the song Live Forever by Billy Joe Shaver

Natalie Bourke

In June 2021, our long time buddy and friend, Natalie Bourke moved past this life and began the second leg of her journey. Our team was formed in September 1998 and Natalie was on the water in the summer of 1999. Natalie started paddling on the south shore, where she lived at the time, with the crew there. Then an enthusiastic few paddlers from there, Natalie included, started to travel into the city weekly to paddle on Lake Banook. Their stop for coffee on the way back home introduced the team to our long time habit of meeting for coffee after paddling.

Natalie loved being an athlete and often joked about becoming an athlete later in life. Being a buddy and a strong paddler brought her much joy! And being an integral part of a team of strong women meant so much to her. Natalie paddled in Nova Scotia, nationally across Canada and internationally in festivals in New York and Asia. She went through many challenges in her life with her health but her determination to live well and enjoy life pushed her forward. Very few things kept Natalie from the lake on practice nights or from team meetings or from helping out however she could. Natalie served her team well in many capacities over the years. Her favourite was to help with team fundraising. She loved meeting people and encouraging people to help the team however they could. You will long be in our memories Natalie especially as we form our Circle of Strength that you loved so much.

life isn’t waiting for the storm to’s about learning how to dance In the rain
Vivian Greene

Diane Nadeau

Diane Nadeau

Sadly we lost one of our newer members in July 2021. Diane Nadeau was warmly welcomed to our team, but during her time with us our team activities were restricted because of Covid 19.

In the beginning she had concerns about getting in to the boat and paddling, but it wasn’t long before she felt comfortable in the boat and enjoyed being out on the lake. Diane took part in the team’s winter training to get ready for paddling season. She also took over the team’s Instagram account. Diane will always be remembered for her warm personality, beautiful smile, and love of music.

The song is ended but the melody lingers on
Irving Berlin

Charlene MacMillan

Charlene MacMillan Tribute PictureFebruary 2008 brought us a new buddy. Charlene MacMillan with her great smile. She was a strong competitive paddler described by some as a fierce paddler. Charlene also enjoyed just paddling on the lake with her buddies being part of the camaraderie, laughter and fun. She was at the top of her game when travelling with the team to festivals all over Canada as well as to international festivals. And we can’t forget her costumes and fun at our annual retreats. Charlene loved music and she was a dancer! First on the floor and often the last one off the floor, and known as our dancing queen. Charlene was a family person foremost, and a true friend to her Buddies. Her health issues often made life difficult for her, but regardless of her circumstances, she continued to live the best possible way she could.

“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak”
Indian proverb

Karen LaVigne

Karen LaVigneKaren left us very suddenly and unexpectedly March 1 2024 while attending courses in Chicago. She was a long-time committed Buddy. When she initially joined the team she was a very active paddler, part of our team operations committee and attended paddling clinics in Florida with some of her Buddies. She competed in local as well as national festivals. Due to personal circumstances, she left the team but rejoined again in 2002. This time she paddled recreationally for a bit until health issues forced her to give up paddling. She then focused her energy on the team’s executive. She served as the team treasurer for a very successful three-year term and after that served on the financial committee. Then she agreed to chair our fundraising committee. Karen did an outstanding job as fundraising chair contributing in so many different ways. Just a very few of her fundraising efforts included being a part of our largest fundraiser, the Little Black Dress Night, being involved in the start-up and planning process of our newest fundraiser the Pink Picnic in the Park, to sending out regular email reminders to purchase Sport Split 50/50 tickets to support the team. Karen was a compassionate giving person. She was not afraid to approach any situation and got the job done….the right way. At the same time Karen was very active in the Lions club in Nova Scotia devoting herself to their cause enthusiastically. Karen lived her life serving her community however she could, whenever she could, giving wholeheartedly to everything she did.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill

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