“Riding a dragon boat is hard and everyone sucks the first time they get out.”

This is the message that Indy SurviveOars coach Sarah Demmon tells newcomers when they first sign up for the teamWith They would laugh or smile modestly from Demmon, a resident of Fishers, but women seeking to be part of the The SurviveOars Club knows that piloting dragon ships can be a battle, but it’s nothing like fighting breast cancer.

For 14 years, SurviveOars has been driving the Geist Reservoir, building a company of Indianapolis area breast cancer survivors along the wayWith Women, who range from 30s to 75s, have participate in races across North America, although COVID-19 has left them unrivaled for more than a year.

The club was scheduled to compete in Kentucky on Sept. 11, but it too was canceled due to rising COVID-19 cases in the area. A substitution event against their Illinois sister team is scheduled in advance for September 11th more Geist, but the club is not sure if that will happen.

For SurviveOars, whether or not they compete against another team secondary to a larger objectivewith

“The most important thing to me is their physical ability because it speaks to their survival and reduces the chance of recurrence (of cancer),” Demmon said.

The team trains three days a week. Even in the off-season, after October when they are not allowed to be in the water, club members gather to train.

Demmon has been a member of SurviveOars since its first season in 2007, shortly after she was cured of breast cancer. She was a driver at the time before becoming captain three years later. She became a coach not long after that. When she first joined the club, it was natural able because she had been a multi-sport athlete all her life and saw a connection between racing more a team AND improving health of breast cancer survivors.

“I tell them,‘ You are athletes now. “I look at them as athletes, I do not look at them as cancer survivors,” Demmon said. “It’s catharsis,” Screw what happened to me, I’ll go out and do it for me and my survival. “It’s about taking a bad hand and turning it into a positive one and helping your body heal. What better way to do that than through an athletic activity and sports to help scar tissue and keep your lymphatic system running? For me, coping with what you have encountered and coming out the other way and doing so is best.

“To see the faces of novices after their first race and after they come down from the water, and the smile on their faces, is the culmination of everything that happens to them. They realize they can do it.”

It is a sense of accomplishment many of SurviveOars have felt. Most have competed against and defeated cancer before the competition as a driver, which is different from a Driving Driver GOALS shoulders and chest muscles, while rowing focuses on the core. SurviveOars exclusively paddle, which a Canadian doctor – Don Mackenzie, who brought dragon boats to North America from China in the 1990s – believed the driving motion would be beneficial to breast cancer survivors.

In some cases, the fight against cancer for a team member is ongoing.

“Some of our girls are still in treatment,” Indy SurviveOars Board Psaid resident Elizabeth Anderson. “Nobody wants to hear the word ‘cancer.’ ‘It’s scary. 10 years out, you are still inspired to keep moving forward. You can also have an active life with cancer. “

Anderson, a resident of Noblesville, has been part of Indy SurviveOars for nine seasons, starting after she was cured of breast cancer. She had a comeback five years ago, and at that point, she relied on SurviveOars sister.

“The best silver dress was that I was a member of this team during my second diagnosis,” Anderson said. “While I had a strong support group of my friends and family, being with these 70 women who all survived was just amazing. I could not only be physically active, but I was able to better manage the treatment. “It really helped me to be with these strong women.”

In previous years, SurviveOars would have had support team members like Kristi Dickson of The fishermen, who had not had breast cancer but who would join the team for the races to fill a boat. Dickson joined in 2013, but then in 2019 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and became SurviveOar.

“I started my treatment a little while ago COVID started, so when I was on medical leave and things started with COVID, it was just good for the team members to know that I was out and that I had surgery and they helped me, “Dickson said.” I had the whole support group in place before I went through treatment. “

Dickson relied on her teammates for treatment suggestions, which they were happy to supply. it tapped at the core of what Indy SurviveOars can be: A support group built a drive at the same time.

Nearly 40 of the 70 Indy SurviveOars members gather at their Resistoir Geist hut in preparation for an internship.

Pink Paddle Party

The annual fundraiser for Indy SurviveOars is their Pink Paddle party, which will be a virtual events carry November 13

“It’s going to be our first time doing something like this (practically), so whatever we’re able to do, we’re going to be excited about it,” Indy SurviveOars Board Psaid resident Elizabeth Anderson.

The event rises funds ABOUT travel on races, equipment and boats. For more or for sponsorship opportunities, visit indysurviveoars.org.