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Camaraderie, fun and support

Dragon boaters celebrate annual retreat in Liverpool


A group of 26 women – many wearing pink – raced around the streets of Liverpool to complete a scavenger hunt Oct. 14.

The women are part of Bosom Buddies of Nova Scotia.

“We are a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team, and we’ve been in existence here for 19 years in Nova Scotia,” said Debbie Pottie, one of the team members.

Pottie is a member of the Queens Quilters, and that’s how the dragon boat team ended up doing its annual end-of-season retreat at Lane’s Privateer Inn.

During the scavenger, the women had to have their pictures taken with the mayor, blow the lighthouse horn and collect brochures and cards from various businesses. They did the whole thing on foot and weren’t allowed to use technology.

Bosom Buddies of Nova Scotia

The team has three boats. Two are on Lake Banook in Dartmouth, and one is at Mader’s Cove in Mahone Bay. The groups on Lake Banook practice three nights a week, while the Mader’s Cove group paddles one night a week.

There are 70 members on Bosom Buddies of Nova Scotia, though some members don’t paddle.

Bosom Buddies is set to head to Florence, Italy in July for the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission (IBCPC) Dragon Boat Festival.

“The big thing with the team is not the competition, it’s the camaraderie and the fun and the support that we get from each other,” said Pottie.

Pottie said breast cancer is the thing each of the team members has in common, but they don’t let it define them. She said they live by the motto that there is life after breast cancer.

Dragon boating

Twenty-one years ago, Don McKenzie, a Canadian sports medicine specialist from the University of British Columbia, did a research project “to prove that upper body exercise would not bring on lymphedema,” explained Pottie.

Years ago, patients that had undergone breast cancer surgery couldn’t do any upper body exercise. McKenzie wanted to prove that doing upper body exercise would not cause harm.

“He was the one who asked for volunteers,” said Pottie. “He got 20 women to paddle in a dragon boat, and it proved his theory was correct.”

People could do upper body exercise and not get lymphedema. Those who participated in the research study enjoyed it so much they kept paddling. Since then, it’s become worldwide, said Pottie.

For more information about Bosom Buddies, visit

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