Breast cancer survivor, Jo Myles from Lisburn, and the Lagan Dragons, Northern Ireland’s only breast cancer survivors dragon boat team, are gearing up to host their first ever regatta on the River Lagan.
The River Lagan is set to come alive with the sound of drums and the splashing of paddles on June 3 as over 420 rival dragon boat paddlers compete in an exhilarating boat race, hosted by the Dragons and supported by Bryson LaganSports.
The Lagan Dragons was founded by breast cancer survivor Joanne Rock and the group first set sail in 2015.
The group aims to help those affected by breast cancer by providing support, improving fitness and raising awareness. The team has grown to over 40 members who attend weekly training sessions and has been backed by the Northern Ireland medical profession with most new members being referred by surgeons or nurses in local hospitals.
Jo herself said the Lagan Dragons has helped her regain the confidence she lost while going through treatment as well as introducing her to an amazing bunch of diverse people who each week come together to laugh and train and celebrate being alive.
While Joanne Rock, founder of Lagan Dragons, said: “I set up the club just over two years ago as a way of helping to support those who had gone through breast cancer. We now have over 40 members who paddle together on the Lagan each week and provide an excellent support network.
“This June we are hosting our very first regatta to raise funds. It is set to be a fantastic day for all the family and we are encouraging people to get involved by registering to take part in the race or by coming along to watch the teams compete in a friendly rivalry.
All racing equipment will be provided and there’s prizes for the fastest teams and for the best fancy dress. The Lagan Dragons Club is opened to anyone affected by breast cancer, whether you are a survivor or a family member, and we are keen to keep growing the club.”
Dr Gwyneth Hinds, Associate Specialist in the Breast Unit at Belfast City Hospital and a Lagan Dragons team member, said the club will help survivors feel emotionally and physically stronger.
“I’d encourage survivors of breast cancer to take part in the sport to enhance their physical health,” she said. “Medical research shows that those who participate in dragon boat paddling following breast cancer treatment have more energy and feel physically stronger due to the strenuous upper body activity.”