Meet the Paddlers
At home eating my lunch one day, I got the call that I was diagnosed with DCIS. This was in October of 2006 at the age of 37. I remember just being able to jot down what they were telling me on a post-it note…
I was diagnosed with Stage I Lobular cancer in November of 2007 at the age of 48 and subsequently underwent lumpectomy and 33 radiation treatments. I have since failed Tamoxifen and Femara
I was diagnosed with stage 1 invasive lobular breast cancer in October 2006. I had no risk factors and no family history. I had been receiving my yearly mammograms for the previous 7 years.
I was looking for some type of support and camaraderie because once you have experienced cancer, your life changes in ways you can’t explain to others. Only those who have been through it understand and can relate. I tried a support group through my breast surgeon’s office and after 2 sessions I had to stop. I felt like all I did was become sad and cry and that is not what I was looking for. I needed something fun and upbeat but with people who could relate to how I felt.
At a cancer survivor celebration that my neighbor Lee (also a breast cancer survivor) and I attended together in December of 2009, we stopped by a booth for the Indy SurviveOars which I did not pay much attention to until one of my previous coworkers (Charlotte) from 16 years prior came up to me and said that she too was a breast cancer survivor and that dragon boating was the most fun thing she had ever done in her life. So, Lee and I signed up to try it out in the spring of 2010 and we were immediately hooked.
Not only is dragon boating fun, but it provides great support with others who have been through what you have. You can talk and learn in a fun upbeat setting while enhancing your strength; and it gives you a great sense of accomplishment and well- being. I am also a competitive person so the dragon boat competitions fulfill that drive in me. These women are the greatest group of women to be with. They are all ages, all sizes, all different backgrounds and interests but we all just mesh so well when we get together. As of now we have no male survivor on our team but if we ever do, I am sure he will love hanging out with this group of ladies.
I received a phone call from my OB/GYN doctor on September 14, 2012 informing me the biopsy results revealed I had uterine cancer. I underwent a total hysterectomy with removal of 13 lymph nodes on October 11, 2012.
In April of 2013 I noticed my right ankle seemed rather swollen, when inquiring about the swelling with some nurses I work with they suggested that I call my oncologist and let him know about the swelling. I was one month away from my second three month checkup when I went for this visit. During this visit, I asked if we could just go ahead and do my next check- up so I wouldn’t have to come back the following month.
Well, to my surprise and his, he found another suspicious bump, so he did a biopsy. Then on April 26, 2013 I received a phone call from his office letting me know that the cancer had returned. Next stop: radiation oncology!
I met with my radiation oncologist and she explained she would like to start with 5 weeks (5 days a week) of external radiation, then probably do 1 to 3 internal radiation treatments. After the 5 weeks of external were finished, they let me have one week of freedom, which would then be followed with 5 weeks of internal radiation (1 day a week). Radiation treatment started on May 16th, 2013 and I completed all radiation treatments on July 26, 2013.
The swelling that I mentioned earlier is systemic from having the 13 lymph nodes removed and is referred to as lymphedema, which means I carry approximately 8 – 10 pounds of lymphatic fluid in my legs and lower abdomen. Lymphedema has left me wearing compression garments on both legs and a compression short, plus I use a compression pump for one hour every evening.
When I went to Fig Leaf to be fitted for my compression garments, I met the sweetest woman and she introduced me to dragon boating. I’m very grateful that Yopi took the time to let me know about this floating breast cancer support group and the sport of dragon boating. This group of wonderful women allowed me to feel alive, to feel strong and to feel like I still had value to my life.
Cancer of any kind isn’t fun, it’s not funny at all, but the thrill of dragon boating and the laughter that comes from within you and within this huge boat makes everything better. The support you receive from this group of women is phenomenal and at times a word never needs to be spoken, you just feel it.
I feel blessed to be a SupportOar on this team of amazing women. I became acquainted with several members of the Indy SurviveOars through my work as a primary care physician. I became intrigued by the sport of
I am a firm believer in the Exercise Is Medicine movement, and the team is the full package. There is such a comradery in the group. When someone has a bad day, or is going through the uncertainties of being a cancer survivor, I have seen so many teammates reach out and be there for each other. It has been a humbling experience. It is so therapeutic (and fun!) to be out on the lake with teammates, working in unison to move the boat through the water. And the races – well, they are addictive. I have learned a lot being a member of the team, and now I believe that Sisterhood Is Medicine!
I will never forget the date, August 31, 2011. My doctor called and said the words I had never anticipated hearing, especially at the age of 37. “You have breast cancer.” To say I was surprised is an understatement.
I was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma. My treatment plan took some time to develop because I am also a leukemia survivor so had additional risks to be considered. It’s scary having two different types of cancer before you even hit age 38! Before I had even fully processed my diagnosis, I had a bilateral mastectomy, followed later by an axillary lymph node dissection and then radiation treatments, and I will have to take Tamoxifen for 10 years.
In the beginning, I was very aware of the new worries breast cancer had brought into my life and the challenges it was leaving me with. However, after I had some time to process everything and heal my wounded spirit, what became so much more powerful in my mind was the camaraderie, love, and support that came into my life BECAUSE of breast cancer. I have been blessed and count myself lucky to be apart of a team of strong, vibrant, fun women who, despite all of the challenges we have faced and may continue to face, can come together as teammates, friends, and supporters to do amazing things.
February 4, 2010 I heard the words “you have cancer.” I knew my life would never be the same and I was scared. Stage II, fast growing=lumpectomy, 6 rounds of chemo, 61/2 weeks of radiation and target
My breast cancer journey began the month we took our daughter off to college in NH in 2001 and around the days of 9/11. The diagnosis and stage took longer to determine
I joined INSO because Yopi, a team member, hounded me for a year to try the sport. I love physical exercise and finally decided to give it a try. From my first time on the water, I was hooked. Though I wasn’t sure in the beginning if I had the stamina to participate, I kept coming back. Now I can even paddle and talk just like my teammates were doing that first evening I was on the water!
INSO has had great positive effects on me. I love the physical exercise and endurance. I enjoy the races and the women we are able to compete against and meet from all over the world. I love the camaraderie within our team and the support we receive from each other–not just about cancer, but for anything in life we may be experiencing, either positive or negative.
My INSO sisters are the best and I am so thankful that Yopi kept encouraging me!
I was diagnosed in 2001 with invasive ductal breast cancer, stage 2. I had surgery first, starting with lumpectomy and ending with mastectomy. I had six months of chemo, 6 weeks of radiation,
I am proud to say that I am one of the longest-survived padders on the team! I was diagnosed at the age of 38, and had a right lumpectomy with axillary node dissection followed by chemo and radiation.
Life does sometimes provide bumps in the road. I was diagnosed July 2008 and began the breast cancer treatment journey, a detour I hadn’t anticipated. The experience move forward so fast,
I was diagnosed in May 2008 with Stage I Invasive Ductile Breast Cancer with triple positive receptors at the age of 49. I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, finished chemotherapy and finished a full year of
I joined Indy SurviveOars in the spring of 2010 with my neighbor, Deb Schutz, and was instantly hooked. My 1st cancer diagnosis was made after my screening mammogram at age 35, which was prescribed by a very proactive
I saw an article in the Geist magazine about the formation of the Dragon Boat. I went to the organizational meeting held at Bella Vita. We had just moved to Indianapolis, and I was surprised to know one other person in
I was diagnosed with breast cancer one week after my 36th birthday. I was shocked, angry and scared! Nobody in my life had personally gone through this type of experience andI was too young.
My name is Val. I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Estrogen Receptor Positive Breast Cancer on April 28, 2006 at age 48. Treatment for me consisted of two lumpectomy surgeries and thirty doses of radiation with
I am so blessed to be able to call myself a SupportOar with the Indy SurviveOars. It has been such an amazing opportunity to practice, travel, race, and celebrate with this group of ladies.
In 2011, I got handed an amazing gift, and this time I’m not referring to one of my 4 children. I had a new Nurse practitioner, Deb S, (truly the best NP I’ve ever known) join my practice. Since then, she has become one of my closest friends. Deb is a breast cancer conqueror in best of ways. She takes on each day with such enthusiasm and love. She invited me to practice one day in 2013. I was hooked! I started coming every week and by my second season, I had rearranged by schedule to accommodate the practice schedule. The women are all so different here. They have different strengths and weaknesses, but it just works. TOGETHER. The best type of team.
I have since joined the spirit wear committee in order to offer some support outside of my amazing paddling skills There are ways to use your talents and gifts to improve and support this team. In the meantime, you’ll find that they support you just as much!
I was diagnosed with breast cancer Aug 28, 2006. I had 2 lumpectomies, chemo and radiation with treatment ending in June 2007. I saw the team was forming in an article in the Indianapolis Star. It looked like something that was
My name is Etta and I was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 18, 2006, at age 48. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and 8 rounds of chemotherapy over six months.
On April 12, 2016, Kim, our dear friend and teammate, lost her 15 year battle with cancer. Kim was a gentle, selfless and kind soul. Her dry wit and outlook on life brought joy to our team. Kim taught us to face adversity with
I was the working mother of two young children when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal breast cancer in 2001 at the age of 39. I remember being told repeatedly throughout all the exams and tests that “it is probably just a cyst.” I knew that wasn’t true when I received two phone messages from my family doctor’s office saying, “Please call as soon as possible. We need to talk to you.” I think the nurse practitioner leaving the message was just as anxious! And I can still feel the wooziness that came over me just hearing those messages.
I continued the “normal” life of a working nurse, wife, and mother during chemo, a lumpectomy, and radiation and the subsequent loss of hair. As a labor and delivery nurse at the time, I did not want those women and families to worry about their nurse during their happy time. I endured the torture of “The Squirrel” (my nickname for the hot, scratchy mass of hair fibers on my head) when at work, but that thing became the Flying Squirrel the minute I hit the door of home!
All was well until 2007 when it was discovered that I had fallopian tube cancer which was followed by surgery and chemo again. I did take that year off work to focus on my recovery and am now back working full-time as a clinical nurse educator. The cancer rears its ugly head every couple of years but we knock it back down and continue on. I have always enjoyed exercise and love the water so when I saw a notice in the newspaper for an Indy SurviveOars open house, I overcame my shyness and stepped out of my comfort zone to attend and loved it. I have met so many wonderful people and I encourage any woman to give it a try!
I was diagnosed with Her 2 Positive breast cancer in June of 2007 at the age of 61. I am the first women in my large family of women to have breast cancer. I had a right lumpectomy on June 28, 2007
I was diagnosed with breast cancer Aug 14, 2007 at the age of 38. I endured 4 months of aggressive chemo and a double mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction. I got the pleasure of 10 surgeries between ports and
I was recruited by another team member shortly after my reconstruction. I hate water, but I must say that I am addicted to the sport. My arms gained full range of motion after only a few months of paddling., so much so that my doctor felt the scar tissue change. The team is a great bunch of women. They are not “why me” people, but instead take what life has given them and turned it into something positive. This team rocks and I am very proud to be a member!!
In 1994 at age 39 my only sister succumbed to breast cancer, leaving 4 children under 13 years old. Even though I thought it was an anomaly due to no history of any kind of cancer on either side of my family
Year after year they came back fine; however every once in awhile I would have to go back but it always turned out to be nothing, until July of 2010. A return visit ultrasound showed more than a shadow so my breast doctor did a biopsy and as I have always requested honesty, she told me that it did not look good. She was right and she called me a few days later and told me to come in that day because I had cancer. She said that with my sister’s young death from breast cancer and because I was also young (51), she would like me to be tested for the BRCA gene. I had three daughters and I wanted to know so we sent the blood work in that day. It came back positive for the BRCA1 gene. The gene came through my father and my oldest daughter and oldest brother have tested positive as well. My younger daughter says she will test, but is not ready to yet. My oldest daughter has taken her own journey and has courageously taken preventive measures; ask me about it when you meet me if you want to know the story!
I had chemotherapy which, in the end, landed me in the hospital for 10 days, and then had a bilateral mastectomy. Due to the BRCA 1 gene, I also had my ovaries removed. In the midst of treatment I lost my youngest daughter. I will say that the two most generally dreaded things in life – cancer and losing a child – had suddenly all happened to me, and my mantra of “someone is always worse off than me, and have joy no matter what” was being severely tested. My family and loved ones were there for me and I did not try any support groups because they typically do not seem like a good fit for me.
Through a breast cancer survivor fashion show, I met Etta (her story is also on the website) who encouraged me to come paddle! Joining the Indy SurviveOars has been the best therapy I could ever dream of. The group is perfect for me as we do not continuously bemoan our fates; we fight back and have joy in living. I lost a sister, but I truly feel like I have gained all these wonderful sisters who support me and have become such close friends. The peace, happiness and feeling of accomplishment I find out on the water paddling with my sisters cannot even be described – it is like coming home. You just have to come and check it out for yourself.
In Memoriam of our sisters