I never envisioned turning in my wet suit, bike and sneakers for a paddle. Even more, I never pictured myself as loving dragon boating and my team members so much. As my cancer treatments came to an end, I felt alone and in need of support as well as exercise to combat the emotional and physical effects of cancer . I quickly learned about dragon boating as a form of exercise, but it gave me so much more. I, like so many members of dragon boating , never saw being part of this unique team as something on their “Bucket List” but for those effected by cancer, it has become not only a means of exercise, but of unity, of support and of commonality.
Paradise City Dragon Boat is a team of cancer survivors and supporters paddling on the Connecticut River in Northampton, MA. We’re a dynamic community organization focused on building individual fitness and health, contributing to our community, promoting awareness of the Connecticut River, and having as much fun as possible on and off the water. When the paddling is going well everyone can feel it. The prized experience sought by all is falling into perfect synch, becoming one with each other and the boat, and feeling the boat take off with a new level of speed and flow.”
The team may be new, but the sport of dragon boating is not. Dragon boat racing traces back thousands of years ago and is native to China.
Our teams first time competing together as a new team was at the Boston Dragon Boat Festival that takes place annually on the bank of the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge. Racing was not the only activity we enjoyed during the weekend. We joined other cancer thriving teams for a ride on a river cruise. We enjoyed the city, dinner, ice cream and lots of laughs. You compete in the races, but you also get a change to know each other, to bond and to come home a family.
“Even though I’m exhausted, I honestly feel so very lucky to be a member of your team, it ALL feels so RIGHT. Thanks for it all.” Said Happy (Mary Daley), a member of the Paradise City Dragons after the Boston Dragon Festival in June.
“I love all of you and being a part of Paradise Dragons! We improved each race and really worked on our timing! What a great weekend and great racing!! And we took gold… We raced OUR race… Did our best, stayed in our own boat, and we could pull even harder bc we didn’t empty the tank by going too fast etc. Thank you all for what each of you brings to the team! Bring it!! Allison Rebello
What I saw that weekend was HOPE. We beat cancer, so we can do anything!