During my youth I was a fierce competitor. I swam for my high school swim team and I ran for both my high school and college team. While I have never liked to practice in my sports, I have loved the thrill of competition. I traveled in places I know that I never would have visited because of my participation in sports. Joining Go Pink DC has awakened my competitive spirit.
However this has also done more than that. When we were on the water during the carnation ceremony ... it reminded me of what were there. As we sat holding on boat to boat, side by side, it was as if we were one. As we started to paddle around, the sound of the drums were as if it were one heart beat and all three boats were one together. As we moved apart, we became again 3 boats of one. It was simply beautiful.
Finally what made me feel so inspired were L’s words to us. She reminded us of how we felt when we heard the words --- You have cancer. I know for me it was like the rug was being pulled under me. For a brief time, I could remember how it felt after Chemo and radiation – how weak I felt. How I could barely make it to the bathroom. Then she said but think of how strong you are now. I realized again, that I am strong. I have been the lowest of low and then made it through. I will never be who I used to be. I will always wonder when I feel an ache or pain if the cancer has come back. However, I am a new person. A stronger person, a person that can try anything and do my best in what I am doing.
While cancer is something I never wished for myself and anyone else. I am honored to have you as my sister in the struggle. As we continue to paddle in the name of a cure."
- CHW - GoPink!DC newbie, joined in 2010
"I just wanted to let you know how proud and thrilled I was to be your captain and drummer this weekend. You brought home GoPink's very first gold medal. You brought heart, soul, determination, and guts to the boat. And, best of all, you demonstrated that a group of women who have had breast cancer were not defeated by it, but continue to grow and get stronger with each successive challenge. I salute all of you, and I look forward to sharing the boat with you in the future
- LJC is a five-year survivor. She's a founding member of GoPink!DC, and considers the team and the dragon boat experience to have been life-transforming.
God bless you all, and God bless GoPinkDC! for being there for me! It was truly awesome - I've now watched the YouTube video 4 times, and cried a little less (crying for joy, you understand) each time I saw it! ... I'm so glad I found GoPinkDC!"
- SBA (a retired federal worker, is an Army brat who grew up mostly in Georgia and lives in Washington, DC with her husband. Her surgery was in November 2007 at Georgetown University Hospital. Her doctors and nurses were all competent and mostly personable, and mammos since then have been clear. She found GoPinkDC! through a postcard her husband picked up while they were at the hospital. She is also a singer - she has done community theater and opera and been a choir member for many years. New member of GoPink!DC)
I really feel so much stronger every time I go out. My neighbor made me think about this when I went to see her after I got home from yesterday's events. She's the one who sent me the original email that intrigued me and made me jump/leap/run out of my comfort zone to go paddling with GO PINK! DC. She reminded me that last year, I couldn't do the second day of the festival - my achilles tendonitis was aggravated by the walking I did and besides, I was EXHAUSTED the next morning. Then this year I did Jimmy's boot camp and I was EXHAUSTED again. Then I started going to the gym twice a week to work on the resistance machines and do some cardio on the bike. I got into a new yoga class. I started remembering to do my stretches for the achilles tendon. I practiced a couple more times and heard Diane say "you are STRONG!!" as I was pushing myself. Then this weekend, thanks to Leslie and Chia with their powerful encouragement, I did both 500 meter races and I honestly felt I could have gone another 50 yards...and then another 50 yards...and then who knows? Encouragement and acknowledgement of how far we've each come sure were/are powerful forces that kept me going. And truthfully, although my feet were killing me last night, I felt great this morning when I got up. I AM STRONG AND GETTING STRONGER EVERY TIME!"
- MM (5 yr survivor, 2 yr member of GoPink!DC)
"I was thinking as I drove home yesterday that we are a sisterhood of the unwilling - that none of us would have volunteered to take this path. And yet, I am so blessed to have you all in my life, so blessed to be part of this sisterhood. It truly comes close to making having had cancer worth it to now be part of this group of amazing, strong, beautiful and indomitable women.
So many great moments from this weekend...the radiant smiles on our faces as we came into the dock after that last race, the determination in our eyes at the beginning of it. The spirit when talking to some of our new paddlers before their first 500, when I said that it would be perfectly fine if they needed to pull their paddles in during the race and they said without hesitation, "we're NOT going to do that!" And they didn't. The instant support and encouragement for my friend Kimberly who had her first chemo treatment on Friday and stopped by our tent on Saturday - I think she will become our next new paddler. The unwavering support from our sister team, the DC Dragons and from our fellow paddlers from the DCDBC and Booz Allen - seeing them lined up against the river wall, screaming and cheering us on was such a boost. And quite personally, the pride in my son's face as he took in the day and told me at its end that he now sees me as stronger than I've ever been in my life, stronger than I was well before I had cancer in the first place, and how grateful he is that I found GoPink!DC."
- KP (4 yr survivor & among the founding members of GoPink!DC)
"I wanted to express my feelings about this weekend… it was very exciting to see a group of women (very brave women!) come together and accomplish what we did.
I mentioned to one of my teammates that I had never won a medal before.
When I was growing up there were no sports for women… you could be a cheerleader or a baton twirler… I chose twirling as that required some talent, lessons and lots of practice!
When I starting have children (I have 3 daughters) I asked a very wise friend what she did so that her kids turned out to be terrific kids. The advice that she gave me was to get them involved in sports and keep them so busy that they would be too tired to get into trouble! And so I did that.
For the past 20 years, I have let my girls try whatever sport they wanted.
The only rule was that they had to finish whatever lesson package/season etc they signed up for. Once they settled into their favorite sport (soccer, swimming and diving, field hockey and Tai Kwon Do) our lives revolved around games/meets/tournaments/competitions.
We traveled all over the country with our youngest who is now a Div 1 collegiate diver. They turned out to be remarkable ,responsible young women.
I have watched all of them bring home trophies/ribbons/plaques and medals.
We have hundreds in our house… but none of them were mine.
Now I have 2 to proudly add to our family collection! Thank you Go Pink! for giving me my turn!"
- JP (5 yr survivor & 3 yr member of GoPink!DC)
"Just wanted to say what a treat it was paddling Saturday with your team (old
members, some of whom I had met before, and the cast of new)! Winning was fabulous, but even better was being part of such a great group of women.This season I will be paddling with Albany's Hope in the Boat (wish all oyou were going to be at the same festivals we'll be at), but perhaps next year I will be back in DC can join GoPink! Thanks to all who made it such aspecial day. I wish all of you individually -- and of course the team --all the best this season! GoPink!!!"
- LF (guest paddler from Hope in a Boat)
- CC (diagnosed and treatment within the past year)
"I would like to say "Thank you" for letting me paddle with you wonderful ladies.
All of you are so inspirational and strong (mentally, physically and very strong in HEAR
"We should be very proud of what we accomplished this weekend, not because we are breast cancer survivors, but because we are strong women who came together as a team and rocked the house. I have been on other teams before and I can honestly say that the GOPINK team fits together nicely!!! We will only keep getting stronger and stronger.
I was diagnosed in 2002 and later went to a few different support groups, but I finally found the best one in the DC area, the GOPINKDC dragonboat team!!! Yes, we are all survivors and supporters, so we have that in common, but you ladies go out of your way to make a new paddler feel very comfortable and at home. I haven't been on the team very long, but I hope to stay for quite a while. I have much in my life to be thankful for, but can add now, meeting some really special women who, like me, are overcoming the curve balls that life throws at them.
Thank you for being my friends and teammates."
- PM (7 yr survivor, member of GoPink!DC since last summer)
here are upsides to being a cancer survivor. I got to meet wonderful women like you. women who remind me weekly that - We are STRONG. No matter the adversity - we are strong. Go Rhonda in the midst of treatment still rockin. thanks ladies when I am down I will remember - I am str
- CHW (newbie, has paddled with GoPink!DC for less than one year)
I was so pumped by the energy & enthusiasm our new paddlers brought to the event, & carried through every race. Plus everyone was so supportive of the other festival teams & cheered & rallied our sister troops & NCAWPA DC Dragon mates! To be among this group of survivors, supporters, their families, friends, (pets & mascots - Go Duchess!) is truly special. Especially amazing this year are our team-mates who are currently undergoing/who've recently completed treatment. Not one of them "dropped a stroke" during the competition ... amazing endurance! Our captain & drummer, & our steersperson (newly inaugurated to race steering at this festival, I might add) were phenomenally encouraging - kept me paddling harder, even when I thought I was "spent." Am looking forward to getting to know everyone a bit better throughout the season on & off the water. You all put the exclamation point in our team name. To a spirited group of women - Paddle on, long & strong, GoPink!DC. "
- LC (4 yr survivor of breast cancer, 2 yr member of GoPink!DC)