History of Busting Out and dragon boating for breast cancer survivorship

In January 1998 the concept of a dragon boat team for breast cancer survivors in Ottawa began. By June 1998 22 paddlers entered the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival for the first time as team Busting Out.  Since then, the program has grown immensely. A program of Breast Cancer Action Ottawa, Busting Out dragon boat team is comprised of only breast cancer survivors.  

In 1996, Dr Don MacKenzie conducted a study to determine whether women who were treated for the disease should avoid rigorous upper body exercise. At the time, it was thought that exercise could cause lymphedema, a debilitating and chronic side effect of treatment and surgery. The sports medicine professor trained 24 survivors to paddle in a dragon boat, and at the end of the three month season none of the volunteers had developed lymphedema. After the study was over, the women discovered additional benefits of dragon boating, including improved fitness and health, and the camaraderie and support of the other women. They decided to continue training together, and the next year the first dragon boat races were organized. What started as a study is now an international success. Women and men who have survived breast cancer all over the world paddle in dragon boats. International festivals are held every four years at various locations in the world.

Busting Out is always looking to share the journey to better health and ongoing support for breast cancer survivors.  If you are a survivor, join our team. If you know a survivor, share our story.