“You are strong” has replaced “you have cancer” in my internal dialogues, thanks to Wellness Warriors.
I was very hesitant about joining the team. I sort of tiptoed in and hid in the back, half turned to the door in case I needed to escape. What I found was an overwhelmingly welcoming atmosphere – a zany group of survivors who are committed to choosing hope over fear, and who are equally committed to making sure “newbies” enjoy this strange sport of dragon boating as much as they do.
I had no strength; I’d never done a team sport; I was cynical; I was not particularly sociable – but no one cared about any of that! And as for my physical limitations, everyone just took them in stride and helped without fussing.
The cancer diagnosis had destroyed my faith in my body, and the realization that I would never be the same person again, no matter how hard I tried, was hurting me to my core. My family and friends, despite their efforts, could not understand what I was experiencing – but it turned out that a few boatloads of fellow survivors could!
Cancer and its treatments also injured my brain and took away a career I loved, daily access to my coworker family, and the feeling of being needed and appreciated. Two weeks after I “retired,” I climbed into a dragon boat and life restarted!
Sometimes I paddle just for fun and sometimes my competitive streak blazes and I race my guts out. No matter whether I am paddling or joining in off-season activities, I love being with my team family! Volunteering to help the Wellness Warriors team is my way of giving back – and it makes me feel useful and appreciated again.
I am okay again – more than okay. I am no longer broken. Thank you, Wellness Warriors!
P.S. We all have such different backgrounds, are all ages and genders, have common cancers and some I’d never heard of – and we are all united in supporting each other by making one stroke through that beautiful water, then another, then another. Join us!