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Dragons of hope: Boat racing improves lives of breast cancer survivors
Date:2/1/2008

ly active, and you certainly shouldnt do upper body physical activity, Dr. Sabiston said. Dr. McKenzie changed the medical thinking in that regard.

For her part, Dr. Sabistons study followed 20 dragon boaters with varying levels of experience to address a paucity of qualitative data in the field.

Most of the previous literature on exercise and breast cancer has been from a quantitative assessment of physiological benefits, she said. There wasn't anything that looked at how these women actually perceive exercise. We were trying to figure out whether having an environment where all these women exercised together enhanced or dispelled the myths around body image. We also wanted to look at how social support played a role in their recovery.

Dr. Sabistons results, based on in-person interviews, demonstrated the positive benefits of the activity. Positive psychological growth following this traumatic event was extremely clear in these findings, she said. The physical activity itself and the women the participants met acted as a sort of buffer to the enduring stresses of cancer recovery. They started to live their lives like athletes. It was extremely empowering.

Interestingly, the positive results appeared to be dependent on a shared sense of what Dr. Sabiston termed similar otherness. While the breast cancer survivors perceived each other as similar despite considerable differences in age, body type and fitness levels, a similar intervention with overweight women did not produce the same effect.

With the breast cancer survivors, if you survived the disease, you were part of the group, she said. Whereas the overweight women like other groups started to compare and contrast themselves to one another. They simply did not perceive themselves as similar others.


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Contact: Mark Shainblum
mark.shainblum@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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