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Letter from the President

The world remains a very strange place as COVID-19 continues to keep its hold on countries across the globe. As we in New Zealand move towards Spring in the next few days and the blossoms show their bright wee faces as we prepare to begin our paddling season, we realize that we are lucky to be able to get back out on the water while many of you will not be able to sit in a boat with a paddle in your hands for many months to come. It has been really heartening to watch so many of you continuing to exercise via Zoom and to have training and exercise sessions available to you online.

Adriana Bartoli, continent representative for Latin America organized a series of Zoom sessions for the member teams of the Latin American countries on technique training, paddling tips and the last session was with some of the originals from Abreast in a Boat along with Don McKenzie. This was a great initiative and helped to keep all these paddlers connected over the long winter months.

It seems that there has been a lot of activity in Argentina recently with the President of the Argentine Dragon Boat Association Mr Liu Jingang appointing one of our members Doctor Matilde Yahni from Rosas del Plata (Beunos Aires) a Vice President of the Argentine Dragon Boat Association. The appointment was made in recognition of the tireless work that she has done in promoting Breast Cancer dragon boating in Argentina. Matilde was very surprised by the honour and is really grateful for the support that the Association has shown Rosas del Plata, with not only the use of boats for regattas but also the gift of a dragon boat to sit alongside the boat the team had already purchased.

We also wish to acknowledge Ms. Hallie Yin from Peisheng Dragon Boat company, Hallie, was the International Sales Manager for Peisheng and in her role she was a great supporter of breast cancer dragon boating, helping to facilitate the purchase and shipping of boats to newly developed teams. Hallie passed away on the 31st July this year after a two-year well-fought journey with cancer, she was only 38 years old. Not only did Hallie help our teams to purchase boats but through her generosity she facilitated the gift of a dragon boat to the Shanghai Awakening the Dragon Sisters team. RIP Hallie.

We cannot underestimate the journey that someone newly diagnosed with breast cancer is experiencing. I had the opportunity to connect with someone who emailed us at IBCPC wanting to know how they could join a team. I connected this person with our National rep in the UK, Wendy Grosse. Wendy very quickly made contact. Some of the excerpts from our email exchange.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of this year, had a lumpectomy and am currently undergoing treatment. I saw the link to your association in a Macmillan leaflet. I am very ‘outdoorsy’; climb, hike, camp, enjoy water sports etc however I was told that after surgery I would not be able to go back and do all these things! I cried - a lot! I have since researched myself and found this to be untrue! Then I saw your section (about dragon boating) in the leaflet! I am still doing chemo at the moment (2 sessions to go) and then have radio after this for 20 sessions. I am interested in joining but not sure how to go about getting in touch with a UK representative or how to go about organising a team, as all the UK teams listed are quite far from where I live (Hertfordshire, UK). Please would you be able to help or advise me?”

After my response to her, she wrote back to me saying…..

“Wow! That was super fast!” “Great to hear back from you”. How exciting – I’ve not felt that sudden flutter of excitement for a new adventure in a while... so I’m smiling. Thank you for bringing that to me, especially during a very difficult time”.

I sent a further email to which she responded…..

“Thank you so much for messaging so promptly and for offering me a new and exciting beginning. I’m very grateful. Wendy has been in touch already and we’ve been messaging to find my closest options, which is wonderful.

Again, thank you very much - for bringing back parts of myself that I thought might be lost forever”.

In spite of all that is happening in the world and no matter how negative or obtuse some people can be it is these very simple words and acts of kindness that make this adventure we are all on so very worthwhile. I saw this quote below and it resonated so soundly with me.

“The secret of change is not to focus on the old but to focus on building the new”.

Stay safe, stay strong, keep sharing the story of a healthy lifestyle post a diagnosis of breast cancer and remember to remind yourself and others, “Exercise is medicine”.

Best regards to you all

Meri XX