ABOUT THE TEAM
International Pink Sisters dragon boat team of 20 courageous women who had never met descended upon Venice in May of 2008. These women came from different parts of Canada and the United States.
The women had several things in common. They are all breast cancer survivors and dragon boat paddlers. Their mission is to raise breast cancer awareness.
These brave women wanted to support the two Italian breast cancer teams to raise breast cancer awareness in Italy by paddling in the Vogalonga Race. They paddled along side the 1537 other participants 25 kilometers down the beautiful Venice canals.
This is a great quest as most races for all dragon boat teams are 500 meters. So to do 25 kilometers was extremely extraordinary.
To see the 3 breast cancer dragon boat teams all dressed in PINK the symbol of HOPE for breast cancer survivors paddle in down those canals was amazing.
Their supporters stood on the main bridge in with pride and join as they paddle their way down the Grand Canal. For paddlers and supports it was hard to keep the tears from falling down their faces!! These great courageous women had done what they set out to do!!!! in Venice.
In Sept 2009 the team comprised of South Africans, Americans and Canadians went to Lac de Joux Switzerland. Patsy Allen, the Swiss organizer said: â€œwe loved the Pink Carnation Ceremony and hope to make that a part of our festival each yearâ€. These women truly spread their motto; together we have hope, courage, and strength. Together we Paddle!!! Showing other survivors spirit through their team song â€œ Thatâ€™s what friends are forâ€. Pink Sisters arrived home with new friends and gold in the womenâ€™s division.
June 2010 the team of women from NZ, USA and Canada participated in the International Breast Cancer Dragon boat festival Peterborough, Canada
In 2012 it was extremely rewarding to race in Turkey as the 1stfemale crew and to be BCS as well. Our tiller Maria Egner, from Windsor Canada, was the first woman tiller in Turkey!!! They put a male steersperson in the back of the boat and a male interpreter just in case she ran into trouble. For the crew, it just meant we carried two extra people who were not paddling. The comments were sure flying but it did not matter because we did not understand. We just smiled and agreed and carried on. However by the 3rd race they let Maria steer with by herself.
We can empathize with foreign teams who attend BCS festivals in English speaking countries. We almost missed several races because we did not speak Turkish.
The insight of Tanya and Hakan, festival organizers in Turkey was amazing. The support they gave us was incredible. They supplied 1,000 carnations for the ceremony. Other teams’ crew members were instrumental in helping us sell some of them to raise money for breast cancer in Turkey. The crowds and teams cheered us on!
One of the festivals organizers, Hakan, was able to do some educational Breast cancer TV segments with the support of medical professionals.
A spectator in the crowd saw the BCS carnation ceremony and was so touched he helped start the first BCS team in Istanbul. The city of Istanbul and the university have given support to the newly formed breast cancer team. The team in Istanbul was called Pink Lotus. In one short year they had started two teams. The second team in is Ankara the capital city. The team's name was “Young Amazons.” We were presented with the best community message trophy in Turkey and given medals to add to our hardware. It is very hard to describe the kindness and support we have received around the world.
International Pink Sisters has truly become an international team where women from different countries paddle together. In May 2013 the crew raced in Florence and Venice and members were from: Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, USA and Canada. It is amazing to see all these different women work together to get the crews to different countries to raise breast cancer awareness race and have fun!!
The crew raced in Puerto Rico to raise breast cancer awareness Feb 2014 along with the crew SOS from Florida. Pink Sisters requested the festival organizers arrange a Carnation ceremony. Community people lined the path way to the boats waving carnations. Women thanked us for showing them life is good after breast cancer. The mayor of Ponce got in the dragon boat for the carnation ceremony for their first breast cancer carnation ceremony. The festival organizers were amazing with the support they had from the medical community and a donor for all the carnations. The saying at the airport is so true “One arrives in Puerto Rico as a guest and leaves as a friend”. In 2016 Puerto Rico did adopt the Breast cancer carnation ceremony into their festival. The mayor gave recognition to International Pink Sisters for supporting them to help promote breast cancer awareness for the women in Puerto Rico.
In 2017 it was so exciting for the crew to support the small festival in San Pedro de Pinatar in Spain. Spain has two BCS crews. One is very small young northern crew. It was amazing to support, encourage and offer hope to their young crew members.
International Pink Sisters is heading off to Limassol Cyprus to raise breast cancer awareness. The mission and hope for 2018 is to support women in Cyprus so they will start their own BCS team. The team is comprised of women from USA, Canada, Germany and Austria. So far the organizers in Cyprus have been able to recruit 6 brave women in Cyprus to join us. We are truly grateful to the festival organizers who have agreed to add a BCS division to their festival. It will be exciting to be their to celebrate their 10th festival anniversary with the promotion of breast cancer awareness.
I joined the Dragon Boat sport in the year 2000 and really enjoyed being out on the water and the team comraderie. In 2003 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my team mates encouraged me to stay with the sport. I joined the International Pink Sisters in 2008 on their Tour to Venice and instantly felt like a true sister to these women. We all shared a common bond, that we had beat breast cancer and I felt the courage, hope and strength of these women.
The race in Venice was called the Volgalonga and I was thoroughly amazed at the response we got from the public. We had crowds of people cheering us on, all along the canals for a total of 25km. What a thrill it was to finish that race. It made me realize what a great way this was to spread breast cancer awareness.
The International Pink Sisters have paddled in Singapore, Venice, Switzerland, as well as the USA and Canada. In Switzerland we had such a strong team that we came home with a gold medal. How very proud we all felt. Every year new friends are made as we travel through different countries.
Last year we did the Dragon Boat Festival in the Philippines on the beautiful island of Boracay. We welcomed three women from Manila to join our team. These women turned out to be true advocates of our cause to bring awareness. This was another event where we were cheered on by the whole beach crowd. We were me by radio and television crews to do interviews and we even had lunch with the Senator, who in turn was trying to bring early detection and financial aid to the forefront. We truly felt the need to help the women by bringing awareness as we heard quite a few sad stories of breast cancer.
Dragon Boat racing has really broadened my life as I would never have travelled to these countries alone. I have met truly wonderful people along the way and feel I have enriched my life. Truly there is life after breast cancer!
This year our team is made of women from Canada, USA, South Africa, and New Zealand We are looking forward to our Dragon Boat Festival in Israel. For me it will be my first visit to this country and I can't wait to get my paddle in the Sea of Gaililee.
HAZEL, International Pink Sisters