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The dragon boat team in Yunnan is purely composed of breast cancer survivors
6/30/2020



Breast cancer survivors in China are restoring their health by paddling dragon boats and gaining confidence.

After a sudden rise to fame on China's social media, the dragon boat team in southwest China's Yunnan Province, which is purely composed of breast cancer survivors, provides an opportunity for the public to know about their little-known life after breast cancer operations.

The organizer of the dragon boat team is the Kunming Cancer Recovery Association, a private organization set up by cancer survivors. The Association hopes to help those affected by breast cancer to get through their life difficulties with outdoor sports.

The team now has 45 members. The average age of members is 56. They are trained in different groups with different training intensity.

"They are the eldest group so they are special given their health conditions. We designed different training methods and intensity for them. We mainly want to adjust their mental conditions. First we let them be open and sanguine, and help them get rid of the impact of disease," said Zheng Wenqi, coach of the dragon boat team.

Dragon boat racing is a sport that requires close teamwork. The members need to train at least four hours outdoors each day to perfect their skills and their cooperation on boat.

Tiresome as the trainings are, members are happy and energetic.

"It's a little bit tiresome. My hands and shoulder are sour but I'm happy," said Zhang Aiqiong, a member of the dragon boat team.

Dragon boat racing has been proved as an effective way for breast cancer recovery. It can reduce symptoms of lymphedema, a usual sequela of breast cancer.

"I still have swelling on my hand. My two hands are different. See this one is obvious. Fourteen years after my operation, my hands didn't get well. Now I believe dragon boat can solve the problem," said Zhou Yanling, another member of the team.

Team members said the sport not only helps them find new meaning of life, but also makes them stronger, gives them partners who can rely on during dark times.

"We should stay united and help each other on our way of fighting cancer. This is just like our dragon boat racing as we are in the same boat here. I hope all my sisters can get support from families and friends. We ourselves at the same time should be confident," said Pu Qiongying, vice captain of the dragon boat team.

Many countries have set up dragon boat teams for breast cancer survivors. The International Breast Cancer Paddlers' Commission holds Dragon Boat Festival every three to four years.

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