I first learned of Wellness Warriors at a lymphedema symposium a few years ago. I was interested, took the pamphlets, but after I got home, I didn’t follow up or contact them. I let the materials sit until Spring of 2021. After becoming an empty nester and living life in isolation due to Covid, I knew I needed change in my life. I dug out the materials I had collected that day, went to the website and signed up for a two-week trial membership to try dragon boating. I have lymphedema in my arm & hand and was concerned that the paddling would affect my lymphedema. And WOW, I am so happy I tried it. I immediately fell in love with not just the paddling, but the people and the camaraderie that being part of the team provides. AND the paddling didn’t bother my arm or hand. In fact, I found just the opposite in that the intense upper body exercise actually helped my lymphedema.
I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1987, I was in college at the time. I took time off from school for my treatments, but then jumped right back into living my life – getting to graduation and finding a job. I never identified with being a cancer survivor. I didn’t share that I was a cancer survivor often, it really doesn’t come up in conversations. I didn’t want being a survivor to change how others viewed me. In my early 30’s, I then developed lymphedema and struggled living with a severe, abnormal swollen arm and hand. I was embarrassed with how I looked and hid it as much as possible.
Once I joined Wellness Warriors, I realized there were other survivors living strong healthy lives. I’ve now accepted the fact that I am a survivor. I am who I am today because of it, and I am very proud of that.
Everyone on the team has been through some tough times and came out stronger because of it. When we are all paddling in sync on the water, it is so peaceful and serene, yet so empowering at the same time. We are all working towards a common goal and help each other to get there. Wellness Warriors has given me so much physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I knew I had a void in my life, but I didn’t realize how large that void was. I am so thankful that Wellness Warriors was at that lymphedema symposium, and that I stopped by their table to learn more. I cannot express how much being part of this team has enriched my life. I’ll forever be grateful.