I was diagnosed with breast cancer In March 2004 and after a lumpectomy and radiotherapy settled back into my life in Port Macquarie. Towards the end of that year I heard from a friend that she was going to try paddling with Dragons Abreast.
I thought I would like to try this but at 70, and walking with a crutch, wondered if it would be possible, but when my surgeon gave me the OK I went along and was totally hooked. I'm not a good look getting into the boat but, once in, thoroughly enjoy paddling on the river. I'll never be a brilliant paddler but the joy of being in a happy boat is one of the best experiences in life.
Although I don't compete anymore I have competed in regattas on the Wyong, Georges and Clarence Rivers and at the Olympic Rowing Centre in Penrith. My sons were open-mouthed at the sight of me drenched with perspiration after racing! I also competed in Abreast in Australia, held in Caloundra, Queensland, last year - a huge thrill for me to be part of a regatta for breast cancer survivors with over 2300 women from various countries attending, many with partners and families.
My club, Flamin' Dragons Abreast, had less than a boatload (20) when I joined but the club now has almost 82 members, both survivors and supporters.
I never thought I would be paddling on the river in a dragon boat at my age, much less be President of the Club. I have met the most wonderful women along this journey: they are the happiest, bravest, kindest good friends to me and I have had many, many wonderful times with them and their partners. We support each other when needed and I am indebted to breast cancer for making it all possible.