Breast cancer survivors gear up for the Big Blue Dragon Boat Race

19 out of the 20 woman on the dragon race team are breast cancer survivors

A few teams competing in the third annual Dragon Boat Race met at the Clinton Street boat ramp Sunday to perfect their stroke. While each group got to learn tricks and techniques from a world-class dragon boat coach, one team might be a little stronger than the rest.

In a month and a half a group of 20 women will battle more than 40 other boats for the title of Dragon Boat Race champ. While it will be a tough and grueling race, it is far from the hardest battle these ladies have faced.

“I was diagnosed in 2013,” Corry Van Aelstyn said.

19 out of the 20 woman on the Dragon Boat Race team are breast cancer survivors.

“I was in surgery by Aug. 8, had my left breast removed and some lymph nodes,” Van Aelstyn said. “I just had my last mammogram about three weeks ago and we are clear.”

Van Aelstyn said the experience gave her a new outlook on life.

“Having the breast cancer was like a gift almost, it brought home what’s important, who is important,” Van Aelstyn said.

She said the diagnosis showed her that she had more courage than she ever thought which is why she decided to join the breast cancer survivors’ Dragon Boat Race team.

“These women, here today, I love each and every one of them, I don’t know all of them, but I know what they’ve been through and together we could accomplish anything that you put in front of us,” Van Aelstyn said.

Van Aelstyn and her teammates plan to practice many more times before the big race and said they already have an edge.

“We have this feeling of unity because we’ve all conquered this crazy disease,” Van Aelstyn said.

And while they’d love to cross the finish line first, that isn’t really what matters.

“If we don’t that’s OK too because we’ve won anyway,” Van Aelstyn said.

The Big Blue Dragon Boat Festival will be Friday, July 17, and Saturday, July 18. All of the money raised will benefit local women affected by breast cancer.

If you’d like more information on the race click this link: