September 30, 2012

We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day for Abreast In A Boat’s 16th year of participating in the CBCF Run for the Cure. Our team of 19 registered members, along with many other supporters made quite a statement in our pink dragon boat shirts. Not only did we take the award for the top Women’s Team raising almost $10,000; more importantly, we proved once again that women who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer can go on to lead active lives.

This year marked the first ever Survivors Parade, where we were led in to the staging area by a group of bagpipers. It really highlighted for me, as we walked in and looked at the supporter’s faces, how this disease still touches so many – family, friends, co-workers. As we reached the stage and had a moment of silence for those who have lost their battle, my emotions got the better of me. There was an amazing feeling of love, courage, and support from the entire group of both survivors and their loved ones. It really was a beautiful moment and one I won’t soon forget.

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I was thrilled to learn later that our very own Original, Esther Matsubuchi, won a beautiful Pandora bracelet from the draw being held in the Survivors Tent. Way to go, Esther! I also learned that Deas Diva, Vivian Omori, was one of the top 100 fundraisers in the BC/Yukon area. Vivian has managed to fundraise over $2,000 in each of the past five years, a total of over $10,000! Amazing and inspiring. Thank you, Viv!

When I first arrived I spied a young woman in the parking lot, who was sporting the pink survivor shirt, and a beautiful bald head. With a large group of family with her, many of them bald too, she could have been me nine years ago. As they walked by, I didn’t even think, I just walked up to her and told her that I thought she was brave and beautiful.

She said that if her son and husband could shave their heads for her, she too could walk with a bald head. We talked for a minute, about being survivors and how long it had been for me. She asked about my shirt. Sometimes that’s all it takes, and months or even years later, the women we meet will remember and be ready to take the next step in their breast cancer journey. That’s why it is still so important for me to be involved in events like the Run for the Cure.

There were many other opportunities to reach out to breast cancer survivors at the Run for the Cure. I know that many of us handed out pamphlets and answered questions regarding our experiences with dragon boating. It was such a positive experience and I am happy that AIAB was once again able to be a part of the Run for the Cure and for supporting not only breast cancer research, but the many programs that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation runs or gives grants to, including the support of dragon boat teams such as AIAB. Thank you to everyone who fundraised, who made donations, and who came out to walk/run with us.

Marcia Rempel, Team Captain