Breast Cancer Survivors Race Traditional Dragon Boats in Singapore to Raise Awareness

Manila Bulletin, October 2, 2006 | Go to article overview
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Breast Cancer Survivors Race Traditional Dragon Boats in Singapore to Raise Awareness


Byline: GILLIAN WONG

SINGAPORE (AP) -- Two days after Wendy Scurr had her weekly chemotherapy session in her homeland of South Africa, she was in Singapore rowing a traditional Asian dragon boat with other breast cancer survivors, training for this weekend's race.

Scurr, 39, who was diagnosed with advanced cancer in 2003 and has had both breasts removed, said she has noticed a positive change in her outlook since she started dragon boating -- in which a crew of about 20 paddle a long, flat canoe in unison to the pounding of a drum.

Around the world, more breast cancer survivors are picking up paddles to race in boats rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails, defying conventional fears that strenuous activity could hamper their healing. Doctors say the concerns are unfounded.

"Before, I just stayed indoors and would not mix with people, and certainly not do exercise, let alone being in a dragon boat race in a harbor where the water's dirty," Scurr said with a smile.

Her face was flushed in the tropical heat after an hour of training with South Africa's team at downtown Singapore's Marina Bay, site of a round of races for breast cancer survivors that started Saturday.

"It's having something to work for and the sense of being able to achieve something. Dragon boat racing is my boost, for getting up in the day and having a focus," Scurr said.

She said she has three more chemotherapy sessions to undergo.

Seventeen teams of survivors from Australia, Canada, England, Hong Kong, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa and the United States are entered in the two-day Singapore championship.

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