Wave Walkers Dragon Boat Team provides a welcoming and enjoyable environment for physical activity for cancer survivors, and those affected by cancer, in and around London. We aim to encourage participation from all of London’s diverse communities who have been affected by cancer. Wave Walkers was established in 2012, specifically for people living with cancer and their supporters. The aim was to provide physical activity, mutual support and team building among people with direct experience of cancer. Our ethos is to care for one another through encouragement and motivation. We don’t dwell on the circumstances that unite us but provide a safe environment to build physical activity into the process of coping and aiding recovery. As a sport, dragon boating is renowned for being accessible to people of all abilities. We are aware that the trauma of a cancer diagnosis and treatment can awaken ambitions and our team provides a nurturing environment to make them a reality.
The initial diagnosis of cancer is a shock and has a huge impact on the patient, family and friends. Recovery is not always immediate, and cancer can become a focus of daily life for some time. Adjusting to no longer being the “cancer patient” and “moving on “can be physically and emotionally challenging. Dragon boating with people who have had similar experiences provides a new activity and focus.
At least 20 studies of people with breast, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancer have suggested that being physically active lowers the risk of cancer recurrence and improves survival. It also helps in faster recovery from chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Dragon Boating has been shown to be especially good for recovery after breast cancer surgery.
We train weekly in the winter and twice in summer and participate in festivals and races in the UK and abroad. We are part of a global network of breast cancer dragon boat teams and aim to participate in the next International Breast Cancer Paddler’s Commission Festival in New Zealand in 2022.
Cancer treatment can take months and for some it means losing their income, especially those in lower paid jobs, on short term or zero hours contracts. Getting fit and active can be low on their priorities and joining a gym or our dragon boat team just too expensive. We would aim to establish a bursary fund to help enable people in this situation to join the club and participate.
The team also provides a strong social network off the river. Sadly, cancer affects relationships and members sometimes have problems. The team gives them support, solidarity and a safe place to share their problems. We regularly have post training meals and meet up for social events with our families.