Eileen P.

To be a member of Bosom Buddies you do not have to know anything about paddling, boats or water. You can even be afraid of all three – many of us were when we started out. You just need to have survived breast cancer or still be battling with it. You can be overweight, short of breath, totally unfit and/or depressed – joining Bosom Buddies will help you!

Joining Bosom Buddies was the most important step I made in my recovery from a “surprise” mastectomy in January 1998. The surprise was that I found a 2.5 cm lump only six weeks after I had a mammogram. I assumed it was another cyst (I had had several cysts identified over previous years) and didn’t worry overly much as I was going to see my specialist shortly thereafter. I had been seeing this specialist and having a mammogram every year for the previous ten years, so I thought I had done everything I could to protect myself.

My physical recovery was relatively fast, but running my business was a struggle and in the end I got severely depressed. I joined Bosom Buddies in March 1999 and have not looked back since. First I found support from women who had been through a similar or worse experience than mine. The focus was on learning to paddle and becoming strong and fit, so the support was very positive and forward looking.

I have found wonderful friendships. I have friends I know I could call on any time and they would be there instantly. I had the opportunity to be President of Bosom Buddies from 2000 to 2001, so I learned a whole lot about leading a very independent group of women, which was great for my personal development.

I have become fit. It has taken more than three years, but I am now fitter than I have been since I was in my early 20’s. (I am now in my 50’s.) I feel very well and I have finally got to the level of fitness that I miss the “workout on the water” when I do not have it. In fact, this year, I am looking forward to keeping fit all
the way through the winter, rather than letting it slide for several months then struggling back into shape in the spring.

I enjoy seeing people join for the first time, learn quickly and become strong and proficient within a few weeks, whereas it took our original group more than year to learn how to be efficient paddlers.

I have become a competitor and an athlete. I had no idea how much a good coach could help you improve, both individually and as a group. We enjoy the drills and long paddles to help us become stronger and better paddlers. And we are thrilled when hours and hours of practice takes us to a new time record in a race. In fact, we now expect to place in the top three in most races we enter, whereas when we started we were glad to place anything other than last. We are now among the top Breast Cancer Survivor teams in the country, even though we range in age from 27 to 70+. We are all shapes
and sizes and very few of us have ever thought of ourselves as athletic.

As a breast cancer survivor, Bosom Buddies keeps me up to date on all there is to know about surviving breast cancer. Plus I know that if I ever have a recurrence or a new cancer, I will be helped every step of the way … I have seen the tremendous support we give any member of our group facing this situation.

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