Frequently Asked Questions

Who can join? Is there an age restriction?

  • Anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer and is 3 months’ post-treatment (e.g. surgery, chemotherapy & radiation…Tamoxifen is fine). This includes women & men with any type of breast cancer.  Paddlers must be over 18 to participate.

How often do you train? Where do you train?

  • We train for eight months (February – September
  • Our training year is split into three phases.
    • Phase 1: 3 days/week in the gym
    • Phase 2: 2 days/week in the gym and 1 day/week in the pool
    • Phase 3: 3 days/week on the river
  • The gym is the Don Wheaton YMCA
  • The pool is Eastglen Leisure Center
  • The river is the North Saskatchewan, launching from just east of the Dawson Bridge.

Do you have to be in shape to join?

  • No! We all come in at different levels of physical fitness – from women who haven’t worked out in 10 years (read one paddler’s story) to women who work out six days a week. We promise that no matter where you are starting you will improve your fitness level.  

Do you have to know how to swim?

  • No.  You don’t have to know how to swim to paddle.  Our goal is to not end up in the water but if we, do you will be wearing a PFD.

How much does it cost to join and train? Are there any other costs?

  • It costs $100.  To become a member of the Breast Friends Society is $25 and to train is $75.  This cost includes training (with awesome coaches), the Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival, a Breast Friends t-shirt and a PFD. Additional costs may include out-of-town festivals and gear (e.g. paddle, gloves…).

How many dragon boat festivals do you attend each year? How much do festivals cost?

  • Breast Friends sends crews to five or six festivals each summer, mostly in Western Canada (e.g. Lethbridge, Calgary, Nanaimo, Penticton, etc.) Every four years we attend the International Breast Cancer Paddling Commission participatory festival. Team members have the opportunity to sign up for as many or as few festivals as they wish. All team members are encouraged to participate in the Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival in August. We raise funds to help defray the costs of competing in festivals, however there are expenses that aren’t covered and must be paid out of a paddlers own pocket. Out of province festivals are more expensive.

Can I miss a practice? What is the time commitment?

  • If you want to participate in festivals, you are expected to attend 60% of the practices (ex. Phase 1 is 24 practices; you must attend at least 14).  So, if you can’t make every practice it’s no big deal.  And even if you don’t make your 60% you can still train with the team; you just won’t get to race. It is a big commitment. We want to do our best as a team, so we put in the work.  If you are willing to commit the time and effort the results will be fantastic!

What if I have lymphedema or another pre-existing health issue – can I still paddle?

  • Team members are all required to fill out a health questionnaire and check with a doctor before beginning to train, but studies have shown that paddling is beneficial for lymphedema and other health concerns.

When can I sign up?

  • We take in new members once a year. Watch the website and our Twitter account (@yegpinkpaddlers) for news about when the next sign-up will take place.