Novice Meeting – October 21, 2010

The Novice Meeting was great success due to the organizing by Rae Philips, Membership Chair and Brenda Easton, Membership Vice Chair. The speakers for the evening were: Jenny Yule on the History of Abreast In A Boat; Patricia Fernandes on Fitness, Safety and Commitment; Maria Hindmarch on Water Safety; Ysa Luz on the Regatta Schedule; Lynn Sparling on the Novice Experience; and Carol Dale, our Ms. Accessories. They all did an excellent job of informing the potential novices about our Society. Questions were asked and answered by Rae and Brenda before two videos were shown as the members mingled with the newly signed up novices.

Thank you to Evelyn Smoliak, our Social Coordinator and her helpers for decorating the room and organizing the snacks. Also, thanks to Sheila Blair and Bunny Rosse for setting up their wonderful AIAB Information display.

Orrie Babiuk

Toronto, October 29-31, 2010

Hello Ladies,

I just wanted to share a little something about the wonderful conference I attended. It both comforts and saddens me, to see so many young breast cancer survivors. Over the weekend I heard so many stories, some so sad they brought tears to my eyes. Other stories were so inspiring, that they filled me with hope for the future.

Tracy DiVenanzo and I attended sessions on everything from sexuality to nutrition. It was a weekend full of information. We met wonderful ladies from all corners of Canada. My favourites were a couple of ladies from Newfoundland, one of which was diagnosed at 26 years of age. The other was diagnosed at 34, which happens to be the same age that both Tracy and I were diagnosed. My new pal Jennifer said it best: “It feels so good to be around others that have been through what I have! It feels so good to feel NORMAL.”

I was called a “shameless promoter” by one of the vendors that took part in the conference. You see, Tracy and I wore our race shirts all weekend – except for dinner. So many ladies asked us about Abreast In A Boat. We gladly spoke about how much we love being a part of the organization. I truly believe that joining AIAB, has turned my life around. I love it that much!

I think that it is good to have young ladies like Tracy and I (and other young members) visible on the boats, to give hope to other young survivors. Young women more often than not are diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer with very unfavourable survival statistics. I hope we can show these ladies to look beyond these numbers…we all know that we can survive and thrive, AIAB has taught us that!

Thank you,
Neoma Quintin
Abreast With FORT-itude

For all those who couldn’t attend the Fall Social, you missed a great party. Evelyn Smoliak out did herself arranging this social event with mocktails, food, music, videos, dance lesson, and dancing. There was some new AIAB merchandise to buy and a special treat: a song arranged and sung by 2010 novice Karen Lutz. All of which made this evening a huge success. Thank you to all those volunteers who helped Evelyn with the set up and clean up.

Orrie Babiuk

Abreast with FORT-itude and Abreast In A Boat Too!

The two crews who went to the Rose Regatta at Lake Las Vegas on the 16th are back with two silver medals, an appreciation of the breast health services that we have in Canada, and some fabulous suntans. It was an unseasonably high 91 F for the regatta but we were fortunate to have tents in a somewhat shady area for most of the day. On the water, it was scorching. The races were very well organized and the intimate setting on the Lake at Henderson was charming and easy to navigate.

The FORT-itude crew won their heat of the breast cancer races and came second by 1/10th of a second in the finals. They went on to win another silver medal in the Womens/BCS Club final, and won a spot on the “coveted” 1000 meter Guts and Glory Race. Unfortunately, most of the crew had left before this announcement was made, so we did not get to enter that race. Going all out for five races in the desert sun was pretty much enough.

Abreast In A Boat Too was comprised of 19 paddlers and a drummer, but no steer. The crew had members from all of our other venues plus paddlers from Abreast of Life (3), Spirit Abreast and North Shore Dragon Busters. They had three races and improved their time in each one. Some opponents practice three times a week all year round, so the competition was pretty stiff.

There were sixty teams in all, including nine breast cancer teams from Canada and the USA. Many wanted to know more about us, including some gals from Vegas who are just starting a team this year and the local Chamber of Commerce team.

Proceeds of the regatta went to the St. Rose Dominican Hospitals and the Barbara Greenspan Women’s Care Centers of excellence for breast health services for uninsured men and women facing breast cancer. Press releases were sent out prior to the event and at the Saturday practice, Lois Felkar and Shelley Nash were interviewed by the local newspaper reporter who did a great write-up about AIAB.

We wish to thank our husbands, partners, friends and family who supported us on this trip. It was also great to have two crews there to support and cheer each other on. Most of us had a chance to talk to people about our mission and why we participate. We hope we have inspired others from Nevada and afar.

Carol Short, Cheryl Watson, Lois Felkar, Shelley Nash, Rose Regatta Media Crew

Heading off to race in Vegas


Paddling to the race

The Steveston Farmer’s Market AIAB booth went well. The day turned out to be fabulous with lots of sunshine and people shopping for their fresh vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner. We were there from 9:30am to 4:00pm. Many people passing by had stories of loved ones and they appreciated talking to us. We passed out brochures and postcards to all the other vendors and we talked to a number of women who were very interested in joining AIAB. Volunteering at the booth throughout the day were Lorraine Bird, Sue Tong, Leslie Lewis, Margaret Hobson, Sheila Tynan, Lyn Scott, Beverly Rossoff, Roslynn Fielding and myself. Many thanks to Sheila Blair for such a well organized package of information that made it very easy to set up the booth.

Yvonne Stich

AIAB at the Steveston Market

Promoting AIAB in boa fashion at the Steveston Market

The AIAB team rallied once again with a large team and an even larger group of supporters for our 14th Annual Run for the Cure. For the second year in a row, we registered as a Women’s Team in the hopes of showing the power that comes from our group of determined women. We accomplished this in spades!

To start the day we had a streamlined and easy pick-up of our shirts, ‘who are you running for?’ bibs and organizing of AIAB banners. We also had AIAB pamphlets and information sheets, printed on bright pink – thanks to Sandy Lowe, to hand out to prospective paddlers. One lady that I approached happily took the info sheet and informed me that she had been waiting to join. I’ll be looking for her amongst this year’s novices!

We were a visible pink presence on the walk and were back just in time to gather at the stage for the announcement of the top teams in Vancouver. I am happy to report that the AIAB team was the top Women’s team for this years run. Many thanks to everyone on the team for their fundraising efforts, including those who showed their support of teammates through donations. We all really pulled together to bring in a total of $17,979, with a special mention going to our top fundraisers: Judi Clark, Mary Hayden, Marcia Rempel and Vivian Omori who all raised over $1,000.

We were called up onstage and presented with a plaque from the Women’s sponsor, New Balance, by Pamela Martin. After a short interview and a great photo op, we gathered for one last group photo. I overheard someone say they hadn’t had so many pictures since their wedding day! It was a wonderful day and it really was a success because so many members of AIAB worked together to support one of our major sponsors, the CBCF and the Run for the Cure.

Thanks to all,

Marcia Rempel
Team Captain for AIAB Run for the Cure

Watch Jo-Anne Merrell’s Survivor Speech

It was my very first time paddling. I couldn’t paddle as well as I wanted to. The water splashed my face but I enjoyed it anyway. As we were paddling forward I was motivated to paddle faster. When those who have breast cancer or their friends and family see me paddling, I can give courage to them. We can enjoy our lives!!! We are here!!! I’m looking forward to participating in a Dragon Boat race with everyone!!!

Thank you, Tomomi (from Japan)

My life has been completely changed. I don’t want to think the cancer has changed my life, yet I would like to think that the strength I have been developing while fighting against the cancer has changed my life in a good way.

I have been running since the first chemo treatment and trying to go for more organic and local products in my diet and daily routine.

I don’t want to be a victim of cancer, so I like to think that being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age is a wake-up call.

So joining team AIAB was a big deal for me. I felt so good to have a new experience in my new life. I loved the warm welcome from the senior paddlers and meeting great people who are strong and know how valuable the life is as much as I do.

When I was in the boat the first time, I immediately felt cooler air from the water. It was so refreshing for me to breathe in and out deeply and it seemed like cleansing my body. Looking up at the high rise buildings from the water was so different from the regular view. I re-realized how beautiful the city I am living in is.

However, paddling was a challenge. Using different muscles made my arms scream. I was trying to control my paddle but instead I gave big splashes to the person behind me. I was so sorry for her from bottom of my heart but I tasted the salty water too and it wasn’t too bad. I looked at the taste as part of the excitement of the whole new experience.

My hair was completely gone and now is coming back. I kind of feel as though my old self has gone and I have been re-born again with new spirit and attitude. I am willing to try any opportunity that comes to me and enjoy the one and only life I am given.

Miho (from Japan)

Making of a Video!
August 29, 2010

Ysa Luz, Vivian Omori, Sue Tong and Patricia Tanaka represented AIAB in the making of a video to promote the World Conference on Breast Cancer to be held in Hamilton, Ontario June 7-11, 2011.  The expected attendance is 1,000 delegates including researchers, doctors and survivors.

World Conf on Breast Cancer

The First Annual Steveston Regatta was held on August 22, 2010. Our composite crew of AIAB members enjoyed the one day of racing with short 200 meter and standard 500 meter races. The site at the historic Britannia Shipyards was a scenic venue within a short distance of downtown Steveston.

In true AIAB form, we won our division with our speed, determination and endurance. Thanks to Coach Lita Joe, Manager Alice Pennington, Captain Sandi Moffatt for leading us to victory.

Patricia Tanaka

July 3 and 4th , 2010

The Barnet and Deas crews had a great time in Whistler even though it was a little cold and windy. Congratulations to Deas Divas for winning a silver medal in the Women’s B Division; to Heather Innes for steering very successful races for the False Creek National Master’s Team; and to the North Shore Dragon Busters for winning a silver medal in the Scotiabank Breast Cancer Challenge Race. A very special thank you to Ysa and Lois for organizing the Scotiabank Breast Cancer Challenge Race and Flower Ceremony and to Brenda Tierney, who did an excellent job of commentary and to all our members, family and friends who helped in so many ways.

Orrie Babiuk

Barnet at Whistler 2010

It was a dark and stormy night – er – it was a cool, cloudy, misty, wet, windy and wavy weekend at Whistler for the Third Annual Whistler Regatta!  It was amazing to watch the qualifying heats for the Nationals and then the semis and finals.  Way to go, Heather Innes, steers for False Creek!

The Barnet crew worked very hard this season for some very respectable race times.  Three 200 m races on Saturday were followed by a superb dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  Amazing wait staff there!  After dinner the Barnet crew split up to pursue their separate desires – some relaxing in their rooms, walking the Whistler Town Square, shopping for bug spray and some joining the Divas at Tantalus for refreshments!

Sunday the weather was much the same as Saturday.  Three 500 m races were executed with strong, steady rates.  Jenny Silver and Nell Remple were our strokes extraordinaire!  Lynne Davis, our steers was superb as usual.  She definitely had an interesting weekend with ‘held’ starts and wavy conditions.  Coach Orrie called from the hot seat and Coach Debbie encouraged us from the middle.  As usual, our Manager, Sharon kept us in line and on time for marshalling, warm-up and racing.  On behalf of the Barnet crew – “Thank you!”

The fourth 500 m race was for the Scotiabank Breast Cancer Challenge Cup.  Seven boats participated and with two boats that were competing in the Nationals it was an amazing race.  After rafting together, Barnet’s own Brenda Tierney was the voice of the Flower Ceremony and we heard the song by Shari Ulrich, “Rolling River” for the first time.  Congratulations to medal winners.

So ends another successful season for the Deas Divas and Barnet crews.

Dorothy Fenning

Watch this video of the Deas and Barnet crews racing at the Whistler Dragon Boat Festival