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Breast Cancer Survivors Benefit from Dragon-Boat Racing

Dragon-boat racing may help breast cancer survivors cope with post-recovery trauma and improve their mental and physical health.

Dragon-boat racing is an ancient Chinese sport that began in the 4th century BCE. Teams of 10 to 20 paddlers crew the long, narrow canoe-like boats. A drummer at the bow and a tiller (or steerer) at the stern guide the team.

During the 1990s, Dr. Catherine Sabiston of McGill’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at McGill University in Ontario, Canda, invited a group of breast cancer survivors to participate in dragon-boat racing. Sabiston tracked changes in the women's physical and mental well-being. The women clearly showed positive psychological growth, while the physical activity itself and friendships the women formed created a buffer against the stresses of cancer recovery.