• Cancer

    In the Loop: Breast cancer survivors head to Italy for International Dragon Boat Festival

breast cancer survivors from In the Loop Dragon Boat race story, Laura and Denise, dressed up in pinkA Jacksonville-based dragon boat racing team made up of breast cancer survivors does most of its paddling locally, but a recent event gave the Mammoglams a reason to take their skills overseas.

Five years ago, Laura Brown dipped a toe — or paddle, as it were — into dragon boat racing and fell in love. "It’s a great way to relieve stress," Brown, a care coordinator at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, tells us. "Being out on the water is therapeutic. It makes you feel alive." That’s a feeling Brown and her teammates don’t take for granted. Every member of her dragon boat team, the Mammoglams, is a breast cancer survivor. "We’re all grateful to still be here," she says.

The Jacksonville-based team does most of its paddling on the Intercoastal Waterway, where they enjoy dolphin sightings and picture-perfect sunsets. Earlier this month, they traded those views for the hills of Tuscany when they headed to Florence, Italy, for the IBCPC Dragon Boat Festival, hosted by the International Breast Cancer Paddler's Commission. The event, held every four years, drew 129 teams from 17 countries. And while the schedule included two days of racing on the Arno River, the festival was more celebration than competition.

"Whether you won the race or not was secondary," says Denise Rubin, a point of care coordinator at Mayo Clinic and a member of the Mammoglams. "We all know the fragility of life and that we have won just by being there and having the strength to paddle on." Read the rest of the story.
This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.