The Hope Afloat dragon boat team practises every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer.

Hope remains afloat through dragon boating

Janice McAuley knows what it’s like to lose a year of her life.

One of the original members of the Hope Afloat dragon boat team in Comox, McAuley recalls what it was like to have cancer.

“Between chemo and radiation, it takes a whole year out of your life. Support is huge,” she notes.

After finishing her treatment for breast cancer, she explains she had to find a way to transition back to life. But life post-cancer wasn’t what it used to be, and she found the support — emotional, mental and physical — just wasn’t there.

“It’s gone, and you’re life has changed. You need to find something to keep your balance and support.”

Thanks to a suggestion from her chemo-mate, that’s exactly what McAuley did.

Following her treatment, she connected with the dragon boat team, and found an avenue which supports and encourages women of all ages, and now, all cancers, to encourage a heathy lifestyle through dragon boating.

“It’s now a worldwide phenomenon,” she says. “It began as a small group in 2001 – mostly as a support group – but they decided to create a team.”

The team began as a group for women who had battled breast cancer, but they quickly realized they wanted to open the doors to women of all cancers, explains McAuley.

The sport continues to grow, and currently there are half a dozen teams in the Comox Valley, she adds, but Hope Afloat is the only team dedicated to women who have had cancer.

Currently, they have about 35 members, but they hope to increase membership to around 40.

The team participates in races, anywhere from Vancouver to Port Hardy, but in past years, they have ventured to Seattle for large events.

Paddler Glenda Wilson, along with her teammates Leona Peter and Melanie Bagley, says there are various reasons for joining the team, including support, well-being, and a sense of community.

“To have fun is very important; it’s our number one priority,” she adds.

In addition to its work in the water, the team gives back to the community in a variety of ways, including two bursaries, a tag day for the cancer care department at St. Joseph’s Hospital and a workshop dealing with the fear of cancer reoccurrence.

“Living with a Dragon workshop was excellent … it was something we did last fall, and when you have cancer, there’s not much available or much programming afterwards,” says Bagley.

“It was cutting edge – almost 100 people attended and we’re hoping to do it again this fall. “Many cancer survivors live with fear, and they don’t live a full life;  many people don’t realize they end up living with the dragon.”

McAuley notes the team accepts ‘support’ members – those who may not have battled cancer themselves, but have a close connection to someone who does. She adds there is no age limit to joining the team either.

The team practises at the Comox harbour, Saturday mornings until the end of the month, and Tuesday and Thursday evening until the end of September.

 

For more information about the team, visit hopeafloatcanada.ca or any woman interested in joining, email hopeafloatcanada@gmail.com.

 

 

Just Posted

Local musicians inducted into Comox Valley Walk of Achievement

Seven local musicians have earned their spot among some of the Comox… Continue reading

North Island Hospital Comox Valley looking for funds to open fourth operating room

One of the priorities of the Comox Valley Hospital is to significantly… Continue reading

Increased accessibility an uphill battle for former Courtenay resident

Brian George wheeled himself up Ryan Road as part of his Halifax Oddesy Tour

Is your Foodsafe certification still valid?

According to B.C. Ministry of Health, approximately 800,000 B.C. Foodsafe Level 1… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Garlic Fest takes over Merville Hall

There was garlic galore at Merville Hall on Sunday as Garlic Fest… Continue reading

A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

NASA provides a timelapse of smoke covering B.C. from space

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Kayak in Indian Arm waters off B.C.’s Deep Cove and feast on famous doughnuts

About a half hour drive from Vancouver, Deep Cove is a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists

Smokey skies across Vancouver Island expected to last until Wednesday

The province of B.C. has issued a special bulletin for all of Vancouver Island

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Trans Mountain pipeline protesters practise resisting police at Camp Cloud

Last week, a Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction ordering protesters to remove everything from the site

Gun used in Fredericton killings is legal, man had licence

Police Chief Leanne Fitch said the long gun is commonly available for purchase, and is not a prohibited or restricted weapon

Ontario will sell pot online when legalization comes in the fall

There are further plans to have pot in private retail stores in early 2019

Most Read