Los Angeles Pink Dragons
The Los Angeles Pink Dragons
by Diane McCabe
The first breast cancer survivor dragon boat team in the US formed in January of 2003, The Los Angeles Pink Dragons (LAPD) has the distinction of being the first breast cancer survivor dragon boat racing team from California. The LAPD team was built around the core belief that exercise is important to general health and well being. This philosophy of promoting exercise for women whose lives have been affected by cancer comes from the team's sponsor, Team Survivor (www.teamsurvivor.org). This non-profit organization provides free health education and exercise programs nationwide to cancer survivors and is open to women of all ages and fitness levels.
LAPD came together through the efforts of the team's captain, Lauren Scott. Lauren was introduced to dragon boat racing by a local Southern California team, the Los Angeles Racing Dragons. She instantly realized how rewarding and beneficial the sport could be to cancer survivors. Lauren was successful in recruiting 22 courageous and feisty women who made up the core of LAPD. Since its formation, LAPD continues to make huge strides with the support and coaching of the Los Angeles Racing Dragons. LAPD has just returned from participating in their first tournament at the Alcan International Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver, BC. The team raced in the Sixth Annual Breast Cancer Challenge Cup against 21 other survivor teams and distinguished themselves by bringing home a Bronze metal in the B division.
Dragon boat racing was first introduced to breast cancer survivors in 1996 by Dr. Don Mckenzie, a Vancouver, BC, physician. He was looking for a way to dispel the myth that women who have undergone breast cancer treatment should refrain from repetitive, upper body exercise to avoid triggering chronic lymphedema, a condition that may develop any time after lymph node surgery and radiation treatment. Dr. McKenzie, a professor and sports medicine specialist at the University of British Columbia initiated a research study to prove his theory that with the proper training and exercise, breast cancer survivors could enjoy an active lifestyle. He led a six-week training program with 24 survivors to prepare them for the strenuous upper body demands of dragon boat racing. Some of the training prior to paddling included stretching, progressive upper body strength training and aerobic exercises. The research showed no adverse effects on the women and led to the impetus for the creation of the first Abreast in a Boat team in Vancouver, BC. The Abreast in a Boat Society has encouraged women around the world to experience the physical and psychological benefits of paddling. The teams have grown to more than 1,000 paddlers in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.
The Viewsonic Long Beach Festival is holding its first breast cancer survivor division this year. To help celebrate this event, we are honored to have the Pink Phoenix from Portland, Oregon (the first U.S. Breast cancer survivor team) joining us. Together we hope to spread interest and participation in this empowering sport.
October 21, 2004
The Los Angeles Pink Dragons would be interested in exploring the possibility of becoming a dragon boat team under the Los Angeles Racing Dragon Foundation 501c3 tax status.
November 30, 2004
On behalf of the Los Angeles Racing Dragons Foundation, I am delighted to welcome the Los Angeles Pink Dragons as a newly formed division. Having been instrumental in founding and coaching the first breast cancer survivor team in California, LARD has maintained a special relationship with the Los Angeles Pink Dragons.
Diane F. McCabe
Manager, Los Angeles Racing Dragons