Picnic and Paddle, 2017
Pictures coming soon
20th Anniversary Celebration, 2017
Pictures coming soon
More than 2,500 women and men from ten countries, making up over one hundred teams, gathered in Sarasota this October to participate in the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC) Dragon Boat Festival which is held once every four years. Sistership was thrilled to be one of the teams participating and we did ourselves proud finishing easily in the top half of the teams.
Visit Sarasota’s Herald Tribune link to see the events from the weekend.
Dragon Boat Festival in Sarasota Celebrates Cancer Survivors: Click on the article to read Cheryl’s Interview with Katy Bergen of Sarasota’s Herald Tribune.
15th Anniversary Celebration, 2012
2012 was the Year of the Dragon and it was a time to recognize Sistership’s 15th Anniversary. A celebration was held on Saturday, October 13, 2012, at the Calgary Winter Club. Over 120 present and past members, coaches, and trainers attended the event. It was a time to reminisce, reconnect, and celebrate 15 years of success and friendship.
Appearance at the Calgary Roughnecks’ Game, 2010
On March 26, 2010, members of Sistership took part in the half-time activities at the Calgary Roughnecks’ lacrosse game. That weekend, all across the league, money was raised for breast cancer awareness. Kelcie Swartout, Game Day Coordinator for the Roughnecks, contacted us on Monday to ask if we could take part in the event and maybe even bring our dragon boat with us! Without much time to plan, our members, coach Jon Davies, and Lynda from the Canoe Club, took our boat out of winter storage and it was transported to the Saddledome by Friday evening.
The evening was an incredible experience for us all. When the players went onto the turf, we formed the ‘fan tunnel’ with the cheerleaders. At half-time, we paraded around the floor with our boat while ‘our drummer’, Annie Pattison, sang a beautiful rendition of ‘Heroes’. Annie is 11 years old and performs at many national and international festivals and events. The attached link to youtube shows the performance: Roughnecks’ Game Annie Pattison
Vicki Kranenburg and artist Brian Cooley made arrangements to display our maquette and took care of it for the evening.
We now have a wonderful memory of the night we took our boat out for a walk and partnered with the community to raise awareness of survivorship, dragon boating, and Sistership!
Picnic and Paddle, 2009
With the cancellation of the 2009 Calgary Dragon Boat Festival, there was no longer an event that our families and friends could attend and experience with us our joy of paddling and the feeling of accomplishment attained by being involved in a challenging and rewarding sport.
To compensate for this, a “Picnic and Paddle” celebration was held in September and family, friends, and sponsors were invited to join us for an afternoon on the water. Crews consisted of Sistership members and guests and they experienced what it is like to paddle a dragon boat. Some realized that it is not as easy as it looks!
Later in the afternoon, our two crews paddled into the bay and took part in a traditional flower ceremony. Noel Johnson, songwriter, singer, and son of one of our members, performed a song that he had written for his mother. Another Sistership member, Gaydon Willis, wrote and delivered a moving and inspirational speech. Twenty-six doves, symbolizing members who have passed away, were released into the air and circled the crowd before flying off.
Gaydon’s Speech at Picnic and Paddle, 2009
The first time I participated in a Flower Ceremony, I was completely overwhelmed. I remember thinking, “Once I used to be over there where you’re standing, and now I’m over here”. How quickly life can change. The dictionary definition of survivor is “one who will not accept defeat”. Look around you. You are surrounded by survivors who will not accept defeat. And we are not merely surviving life, we are living life. You can tell that every time we get into the dragon boat. No matter what life has thrown at us, no matter how we are feeling, when we get into that boat, we forget everything else except what we came here to do. We dig down deep, reach further, pull harder and sit up stronger. When we want to quit, we don’t quit. We are all breast cancer survivors.
In Sistership, there are several types of survivors. The first type of survivor is the one who is now cancer free and has been given the “all clear” from their doctors. Most of our sisters are this type of survivor. But some of our sisters, after being clear for some time, are again fighting this dreaded disease with courage, dignity and hope. They are another type of survivor, the ones experiencing a recurrence. Then there are survivors like me. I have never heard the words “all clear, cancer free or remission”. The cancer has remained in my body for the last three years and the best case scenario for me is that the cancer stays dormant for as long as possible with the help of drugs, a positive attitude and healthy living, which includes being part of Sistership.
We are Sistership. Two crews, one Team.
But it not just about us. We are also here today to remember with love those sisters who have gone before us. Our loss is great – 26 sisters in 12 years. This tribute is written for them.
Silently, their paddles enter the water as one, in time with the beat of the drum. Slowly, they pass the cheering crowds on shore and the dragon boats carrying Team Sistership with their flowers held high in the air, singing, laughing, crying.
Once they were Sistership. They, too, won many races. Medals hang from their necks. On command they “Let her run”.
They paid the price and joined the team. They learned what they were made of. They understood what it meant to be part of a team, to give of themselves selflessly to reach the goal. Their hearts beat in unison as they reached, pulled and strained together, eyes locked on the finish line.
They were Sistership. They had families and friends who came to cheer. They celebrated, laughed and drank a toast together. “Stay well!”, they told each other. “Stay well!”. They smile now and send their blessings.
“Paddles Up!”, calls the steersman and in unison they begin the Sistership salute as Spirit Sistership moves through the water out of sight.
In Loving Memory
Thank you to our families, friends, and sponsors who joined us on this very special day.