Oxford Paddlers for Life – making a difference to those affected by cancer
Posted: Thu, 30 May 2019 13:39
Breast cancer is the most common cancer, with one in eight women in the UK developing breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. More women than ever are surviving breast cancer thanks to better awareness, better screening and better treatments. Around five out of six women diagnosed in the UK today will be alive in five years' time, compared to three out of six women 40 years ago. However, nearly 1,000 women still die of breast cancer every month in the UK.
Oxfordshire has a higher incidence of breast cancer compared to the England average, as the county is relatively affluent, and research indicates that women in the least deprived socioeconomic groups have higher breast cancer incidence.
Macmillan, Breast Cancer Care and the International Breast Cancer Paddlers' Commission (IBCPC) all support the importance of exercise during and after treatment for both primary and secondary breast cancer.
Physical activity can be an important part of recovery after cancer treatment. Being active has many benefits and can help to:
• reduce tiredness and some treatment side effects
• reduce anxiety and depression
• improve your mood and quality of life
• strengthen your muscles, joints and bones
• look after your heart and reduce the risk of other health problems.
Physical activity is consistently linked to a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence. A large study showed that women who exercised moderately (the equivalent of walking three to five hours a week at an average pace) following a breast cancer diagnosis had 40 to 50 percent lower risks of breast cancer recurrence and death from breast cancer or any cause, compared with women who exercised less.
Research strongly suggests that dragon boating specifically helps with improving wellness and post-treatment quality of life.
Breast cancer participants dragon boating is an international movement inspired by the research of Canadian sports medicine specialist Don McKenzie. Survivors of breast cancer join together to paddle dragon boats to the benefit of their physical health and social well-being.
There are now more than 140 breast cancer survivor dragon boat teams paddling all over the world. Before Oxford Paddlers for Life the nearest team for breast cancer participants was Worcester (some 60 miles away). Without our own boat and equipment to paddle safely, our members who have benefited from being able to paddle on a regular basis will no longer be able to continue.
As the breast cancer dragon boat movement grows, we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the disease and about life after breast cancer. We know a full and active life is possible.
The Oxford Story begins…..
Over the last year Oxford Paddlers for Life have registered as a charity, set up a website and Facebook site and found a safe and secure location to store a boat and train. In January 2019 they were loaned free of charge a dragon boat and equipment (buoyancy aids and paddles) which had to be returned by May (the equipment) and September (the boat).
Through the loaned boat, they tested their concept and proved there is a demand for regular dragon boat paddling training in Oxford. They have shown that they are making a difference to individuals and their family who are all impacted by Breast Cancer.
They have had help from helms, coaches and experienced paddlers from other clubs around the country, and this has given them a strong foundation to move towards becoming self-sufficient with their own training programme for paddlers, helms and coaches.
BUT they needed their own dragon boat and equipment to be sustainable, and continue to thrive indefinitely.
That's where Active Oxfordshire were able to help. We guided them through the process of applying to Sport England Small Grants for £9,597 to cover the cost of the dragon boat, trolley, cover and buoyancy aids. This grant wasn't enough to cover the paddles which cost £2390.20p, but without the paddles, they would unable be to go out on the water so Active Oxfordshire signposted and supported them to write an application to Oxford Sports Council a local non for profit organisation who fund Oxford based Sport and Physical Activity development.
Both of these application were successful and now the club has the certainty of having its own equipment and location to store and paddle from they can concentrate on developing further opportunities for participants and their families to be active in a safe supportive environment.
"I really can't thank you enough Active Oxfordshire for all of your support, expertise and encouragement. Your advice made all the difference!" Sarah Hepworth, Trustee Oxford Paddlers for Life.