Every single day, 78 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada.
The horrific disease has taken so many lives and caused so much heartbreak but on the shores of Penticton’s Skaha Lake on Sunday, over 100 dragonboat athletes came to shore in their boats to hold up a pink carnation in hope for a cure.
The carnation ceremony is a Penticton Dragonboat Festival tradition and organized by local breast cancer survivor team Survivorship.
Don Mulhall, who is the coach for Survivorship, couldn’t have asked for a better weekend of racing.
The director for Penticton Dragonboat Festival watched under the blue skies on Saturday, Sept. 9, as 76 teams from as far as Calgary and Victoria came out fast and furious to kick off the 22nd edition of the end-of-summer event.
This year, the song Pink was played while dragonboaters and people on the beach waved their pink carnations in the air. After a minute of silence to remember those loved ones lost, the flowers were thrown into the lake.
This year, nine breast cancer survivor teams from across B.C. competed in the event and participated in the moving ceremony. Hundreds gathered on the beach to take in the ceremony, throw their own carnation into the water and honour those survivors, those fighting and loved ones lost.
“In 2022, breast cancer was the most common cancer among women,” said ceremony emcee Sarah Johnson, whose mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor and is on a breast cancer survivor dragonboat team.
“Only five per cent of breast cancer is inherited gene mutation of which I am one of,” said Johnson. “Before I was 40 I went under a pre-cautionary mastectomy to put my daughters and my future as a priority to ensure I could see my daughters grow up. This is possible because of my mom and her fight,” she said.
“My mom has survived breast cancer twice and she is down there with her other teammates and other survivors. Everyone here today knows someone impacted by breast cancer. All the pink out there represents the fear of breast cancer and of the unknown of the disease but also of hope for the future,” said Johnson. “We honour, remember and celebrate you.”
In the breast cancer survivor final races, Penticton team Survivorship came in second.
In fact, the vendors, beer garden, beach and grass areas were bursting at the seams with athletes, spectators and visitors for both days.
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