• “When you push off from the dock … we’re all in the same boat. 
    This isn’t about cancer anymore. It’s about exercise and health and the rest of your life. 
    When we push off we’re paddling away from breast cancer.” 

    - Dr. Don McKenzie, Founder, Abreast In A Boat 
  • “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain!” 

    - Vivian Greene 
  • “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” 

    - T.H. Thompson & John Watson 
  • “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. 
    The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’ 

    - Nelson Mandela 
Behind the Cape Grace Hotel, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town
Mondays 17h30 for 18h00 and Saturdays 07h30 for 08h00

Belles Stories » Kelee Arrowsmith

kelee Arrowsmith

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on the 8th of December 2005 and had a lumpectomy on the 22nd of December. The surgeon also removed 22 nodes from under my arm, 4 of which were cancerous. It was almost as if I had inadvertently hopped onto a roller coaster; from a perfectly normal (well, normal for me) life, where I made decisions on a daily basis, to a very fast downhill ride where all my decisions seem to have been made based on oncology experience over the past years. And there was no way to get off.

Of course there were the obligatory unexpected bumps along the way – the last minute postponement of the operation due to the fact that I had Graves Disease, which meant that I could not have anesthetic with my T4 so high. A course of Lugol’s Iodine brought it low enough for anesthetics to be safe and the ride continued.

The physical treatment (torture) is similar in most breast cancer cases, just the details vary somewhat. You feel fine, discover that you have cancer and they make you sick with their treatment.

What I find most interesting about this ride is my mind shift over the past months. After the operation, all I (frantically) wanted was for my life to go back to “normal”. Operation on the 22nd, back to work on the 3rd, chemo on Friday, rest on the weekend and back to work on Monday… but around about the 4th chemo treatment, that began to change. I am not sure why or how, but now all I want is for my life to NOT be the same. I want to eat the pudding first and not have to try and save space for it.

Dragon boating has been and continues to be a wonderful experience. We are all in the same boat (uggg, sorry) so we understand. We are there to enjoy the workout and each other’s company, and to win in Singapore! I am motivated by all the pink ladies who come to the workouts, no matter what the weather or how ill they feel and I am especially grateful to Pam for all her hard work and dedication. I am looking forward to meeting all the other breast cancer survivors from around the world and competing against them in the years to come.