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Butts in A Boat Prostate Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Team

Updated: Jun 4


The Butts in a Boat Prostate Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Team originated in Vancouver, BC, and is, as far as I am aware, the first prostate cancer survivor dragon boat team in the world, and certainly in Canada. The team was co-founded by Vince Schiralli and Dr Richard Wassersug as part of a one-off challenge against the “Abreast in a Boat” teams during one of the Survivor Cup challenge events at the annual Concord Pacific International Dragon Boat Festival. The event attracted enough prostate cancer survivors to field a full boat for the event and was so popular that it sowed the seed to build a regular team that has grown and persisted in Vancouver for the last 7 years.


And since the Butts in a Boat team was established, a 2020 qualitative study in the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology titled “One stroke, with twenty-two people”: exploring prostate cancer survivors’ participation in dragon boating” found the importance of dragon boating for establishing a meaningful social support system and positively re-framing the cancer experience of its participants. Not only do participants enjoy participating in great physical activity, but the study also showed the positive impact on men’s psychosocial well-being as being even more important.


And to this I personally attest. Since joining the Butts in a Boat team, it has become very apparent how much our team serves as a meaningful and important part of my overall prostate cancer support network. Not to undermine the purpose and importance of more conventional support groups (one of which I am also a leader of), but being part of a team that must work together, paddle in unison, encourage each other to push ourselves physically and mentally, builds a special kind of bond and camaraderie that can’t be found in a meeting room. Training sessions always end with a short social gathering on the shore afterwards, with refreshments, where the team continues to banter, catch up, and check in on each other.


Our team has also forged a strong relationship with many of the breast cancer survivor teams in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver (eg. Abreast in a Boat, North Shore Dragon Busters, etc), and from which we often source female paddlers to paddle with us in the mixed event races during regattas. The shared experience with cancer between our teams adds a profound significance and energy to our purpose for raising awareness that cancer does not have to define us, and that a long, healthy, and active life after a cancer diagnosis is very possible.

The great thing about dragon boating is that no previous experience is required. The Butts in a Boat team has a coach, provides training, paddles, and PFDs (personal floatation devices). All you need to do is show up and be prepared for a good workout and a fun time.


It is our hope to grow our team next year here in Vancouver so that we can build greater awareness for the team, and the prostate cancer community in general, as well as foster greater competition within our community of prostate cancer survivors. So, if you are a guy that has been diagnosed with prostate cancer at any time, regardless of whether you have been treated and recovered, we welcome you to come join us and give it a try.


Since the Butts in a Boat in Vancouver was established, one more Butts in a Boat team has been established in Moncton, NB. The Vancouver team had the honour to have the captain of the Moncton team join us for practice one evening this summer in Vancouver, and we loved having the opportunity to establish this connection between our teams. We’d love to see more Butts in a Boat teams in Canada be established and foster a strong national network of prostate cancer dragon boat teams in the future.


Until then, Paddles Up!


 

If you are interested in coming out to give dragon boating a try with the Butts in a Boat in Vancouver, please contact:


Vince Schiralli: vince.schiralli@gmail.com


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