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Divas open the dragon boats to women with other cancers

Dragon Diva’s paddlers with $8,000 for the Diva Deck on the rooftop of CDH’s chemotherapy unit serving some 1,500 patients annually. - Peter W. Rusland /file
Dragon Diva’s paddlers with $8,000 for the Diva Deck on the rooftop of CDH’s chemotherapy unit serving some 1,500 patients annually.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland /file

The Cowichan Valley Dragon Divas are changing their focus.

After 10 years of promoting breast cancer awareness, the Divas have decided to include women with all types of cancer in the hope of offering support for them to become part of the dragon boat team.

"By doing this, we hope that the Divas can give these other, often deadly, cancers more publicity and the awareness they deserve so that early detection which is so vital will become the norm,'' noted Doreen Wheeldon of the Dragon Divas.

"Hopefully, more money and funding might go towards research for diseases like ovarian cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer as well as lesser known diseases like endometrial cancer, uterine cancer and cervical cancer.''

The Dragon Divas dragon boat team was formed in 2003 to help breast cancer survivors deal with their disease through exercise and camaraderie.

The support system for the survivors is truly remarkable, Wheeldon pointed out, and it's uplifting to experience being part of a team of vibrant and caring women.

"It would be wonderful if other women diagnosed with those other cancers could benefit in this same way — having someone to discuss issues with and especially knowing that you are not alone,'' Wheeldon said.

The dragon boat team paddles every Monday and Thursday evening from early April to the end of September in Cowichan Bay.

Dragon boat racing continues to grow in popularity. The team enters festivals in Nanaimo, Victoria and Port Alberni and has competed in the past on the Lower Mainland and in the United States against international competitors from as far away as Australia and Ontario.

The Dragon Divas will continue to support breast cancer, but will include issues related to other cancers.

Money from the Divas' golf tournament will still be donated to the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation. Past donations have gone to patio and equipment for the chemo centre, the pharmacy chemo hood, the ultrasound campaign, the digital mammography and radiation departments.

The Divas also support the Terry Fox Run and Tour de Rock campaign.

There will be a meet and greet for women interested in learning more about becoming a Diva on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Maritime Centre in Cowichan Bay.

"We hope that women diagnosed with various cancers will consider joining the Dragon Divas and becoming part of our society,'' offered Wheeldon.

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