Nfld. & Labrador

Breast cancer survivor tackles emotional first Paddle in Paradise

It was an emotional day on the water at the sixth annual dragon boat races in Paradise on Saturday.

Record number of teams participate in event at Octagon Pond

First time racer and recent breast cancer survivor Colleen Field says her fellow rowers motivated her to get outside — despite not being 'a sports person.' (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

It was an emotional day on the water at the sixth annual dragon boat races in Paradise on Saturday — especially so for first-time rower and cancer survivor Colleen Field.

The event at Octagon Pond was organized by the Avalon Dragons, a team filled with breast cancer survivors.

According to organizers Hannah Hanlon and Rose O'Neill, it was a successful day and proof of how far they've come.

"When we started six years ago, we started with eight teams. Today we're up to 35 teams," O'Neill said.

"We paddle twice a week on Octagon Pond and we just love it."

Breast cancer survivors and members of the Avalon Dragons storm across the finish line at the sixth annual Paddle in Paradise. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

For Field, a recent breast cancer survivor, this was her first competition since joining the Avalon Dragons.

"It's been the most wonderful thing I could ever imagine. A wonderful group of ladies. They've just made me get outside and want to participate in something I've never [done] before," she said.

Field completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments earlier this year and her family was right there cheering her on as she completed Saturday's race.

"It just means everything because they've been so supportive over this past year," she said.

"It's just great to be out for something fun and I am just so happy they are all here." 

The Avalon Dragons now have 70 members and 7 boats in their possession.

Funds raised from the Dragon Boat races will go towards building a permanent boathouse on Octagon Pond.

The hope is that once the boathouse is complete, the Dragons will have a place to store their boats and grow the sport even further.

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With files from Jeremy Eaton