INDIANAPOLIS – A group of breast cancer survivors take consciousness to a whole new level, on the water, by bringing the dragon boat to Indiana.
Team sport, they say, is a great way for women still struggling with the disease, and others currently in remission, to come together and fight as a team.
The women, who have met three times a week for the past 14 years at Geist Reservoir, are undoubtedly survivors, but they prefer to be called survival oars.
“This group helps us with our mental and physical fitness and with the activity of all of us here… it’s just a group of HIV positive women that you probably would never have met in your life if it had not been for this diagnosis. “, Indy SurviveOars President Elizabeth Anderson said,” It’s really indescribable, when you’re out there… you put your worries aside. “
There isn’t much more frightening than a cancer diagnosis, but this floating fraternity of survivors is moving forward nonetheless.
“It’s very scary to hear the words cancer, but… being part of that group you see women of all ages, all athletic abilities and all stages of cancer,” Anderson said. “We train ourselves not to live in fear. You know? Every day is a gift and we are here together to move forward.
On land, Anderson is a cancer survivor, but here in the water she becomes one of 22 women on the same boat in more ways than one. United through their pain, chasing a goal together, one paddle at a time.
“All together. You can’t do it individually at all, so… it’s like in life, you all have to be together,” Anderson said. “When they’re here they feel brotherhood. enthusiasm, closeness.The family thinks we all have.
One small mistake and their narrow vessel could deviate from its trajectory, that’s where coaching comes in.
“The camaraderie and the sport and the… the love of it all. It’s just amazing, ”said Michelle Lytle, assistant coach of Indy SurviveOars. “It gives us something to focus on other than cancer… I never wanted this to be my identity.”
Their collective identity was punctuated by the ever-beating drum inside each member of the team. The drum is decorated with the names of sisters who are no longer part of the team today.
“They’re always in our heart and they’re always on that drum and they’re always with us when we paddle,” said Lytle. “We continue to remember them as we paddle. They are part of us today.
The Indy SurviveOars are ranked internationally. 30th fastest dragon boat in the world. They are the only Indiana dragon boat team motivated by breast cancer and they hope to compete in five competitions next year.
You don’t need to have a sports background to join the Indy SurviveOars, if you are a breast cancer survivor you can join the team.
The team is always on the lookout for new members who want to join their floating fraternity.
“Sometimes you forget why we’re all here and it’s really good that you forget your diagnosis,” Anderson said. “Sometimes I even forget that I am a cancer survivor because life is so busy in this group and it brings you so much hope and joy.”
You can support the SurviveOars through their virtual Pink Paddle Party on Saturday, November 13, more information can be found on their website.
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