Fighting breast cancer is a physical and emotional challenge that many women face. However, there are organisations and initiatives that demonstrate how sports, especially boating, can play a significant role in the recovery and rehabilitation process.
“Paddling” allows for the engagement of a wide range of muscles, including those of arms, legs, core, back. This makes the activity one of the most complete workouts, helping to improve strength, endurance and coordination.
Many organisations have been promoting canoeing as a discipline that supports women who have had breast cancer for decades.
Two examples in this regard are the Pagaie Rosa Dragon Boat association and the “Torino Breast Days” event, which promote rowing as a means of breast cancer prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
Female dragon boater
The Pagaie Rosa Dragon Boat association, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023, is an organisation based in Rome with the primary goal of improving the quality of life for women affected by breast cancer. Composed of women who have personally faced this disease, the association is committed to spreading a message of hope, strength, and support to all women involved. How do they do it? Through the consistent practice of the dragon boat and Polynesian canoeing.
The “A breast in a boat” project, conceived by a group of doctors in 1996, demonstrated the repetitive sports activities involving the upper body should not be avoided for women who have undergone breast cancer surgery. Over the year, this projects has inspired the Breast Cancer Paddlers Survivors movement, with hundreds of teams worldwide testifying to how effective this sport is both in terms of physical recovery and psychological well-being.
In 2003, the Pagaie Ross started their activity by establishing the Pink Butterfly, which is the first Italian team of dragon boats of breast cancer operated women. In October in Castel Gandolfo, in the province of Rome, was held the event celebrating the 20 years of Pink Butterfly.
The festival, articulated in a day of speed races in dragon boats, saw the participation of 22 teams from Europe and Italy, totaling 500 female athletes.
The event aims to demonstrate that rowing can be a path to physical and psychological recovery for women who have faced breast cancer. Through participation in races, events, and competitions, these women show that it is possible to have a full and active life even after this traumatic experience.
In Turin prevention is on the Po
The “Torino Breast Days” event is an important initiative that promotes rowing as a means of breast cancer prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. Organised at the Reale Società Canottieri Cerea, the event takes place every October, in conjunction with Ottobre Rosa dedicated to breast cancer.
This year, the event featured a significant addition: the introduction of “Integrated Sports Therapy” courses promoted by the Italian Rowing Federation.
The Piedmontese clubs involved in the project, in addition to Cerea, include Cus, Canottieri Armida, Circolo Eridiano, Società Canottieri Esperia, Canottieri Caprera, Canottieri Lago d’Orta, and Canottieri Candia.
These courses aim to promote rowing as a discipline for wellness and disease prevention, with a specific focus on rehabilitation for individuals who have suffered from oncological diseases, particularly breast cancer.
The event provides an informal doctor-patient interaction in an outdoor setting, combined with a sports and rehabilitative activity. The Piedmontese clubs involved in the project offer the opportunity to access these courses, highlighting the importance of spreading rowing as a means of supporting women’s health.
The event is inclusive and open to all women, not just those who have had breast surgery. «The same format as last year, with all the specialists from the Breast Unit at the Città della Salute e della Scienza in Turin available for a unique doctor-patient interaction: informal, outdoors, and associated with a combined sports and rehabilitative activity», explains Dr. Piero Maria Ferrando, Plastic and Oncoplastic Surgeon, who organised previous editions. «A well-established program, with the added opportunity to try a boat outing to directly experience this new innovative rehabilitative approach on the same day, guided by specifically trained instructors» concludes Fiammetta Garabello, Councilor of R.S. Canottieri Cerea and event coordinator.
The benefits of rowing
Rowing has become particularly significant for women who have undergone breast cancer surgery, as demonstrated by examples like Pagaie Rosa Dragon Boat and events such as the “Torino Breast Days.”
These two examples clearly illustrate the benefits of rowing for women who have faced breast cancer. Beyond physical recovery , this discipline provides a supportive community and the opportunity to confront the challenge of cancer with strength, hope, and determination. Rowing not only promotes physical healing but also a sense of renewal and confidence in one’s abilities. Rowing can trigger significant physical and psychophysical well-being, helping women transition from the concept of illness back to normalcy.
Rowing thus becomes not only a means of maintaining physical fitness but also a source of inspiration, hope, and rejuvenation for many women.