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Team Survivor Sea Dragons to paddle 'Mission Bay Marathon'

An all-female paddling team made up of cancer survivors will paddle 26.2 miles on Sunday, May 21.

SAN DIEGO — Most people run marathons; they don't paddle them. In this Zevely Zone, I met a special group of women who are nothing like most people. 

TEAM Survivor San Diego offers free fitness programs open to women of all ages and fitness levels, in all stages of cancer treatment and recovery.  

After death knocked on Lori Plutchack's door, she wanted to live. "When you first have a cancer diagnosis you are kind of in shock," said Lori. "When I came to this team, I found a sisterhood, a family. We laugh, we cry because after you have cancer your life changes."

Credit: Team Survivor Sea Dragons

The favorite activity offered by TSSD is dragon boat paddling.  This is a team sport including 20 paddlers and a steersman per boat. Their dragon boat team is called the Team Survivor Sea Dragons and the program began in 2008.  

"It was a complete shock," said Lynette Cederquist who beat colon cancer, but then when breast cancer showed up, "I can't imagine my life without them, they were such a support when I got re-diagnosed my first thought was I have got my team," said Lynette about her paddling partners.

Credit: Team Survivor Sea Dragons

They are a group of dedicated female cancer survivors of various ages, backgrounds, and athletic abilities who have enthusiastically embraced the sport of Dragon Boat Racing. If you think cancer's tough, Team Survivor San Diego is ten times tougher.

"I beat Kidney cancer," said Denise.

"I beat breast cancer," said Natalie.  

"I beat breast cancer," said Paula.  

15 years ago, the ladies started racing dragon boats and making waves by medaling almost everywhere they went. The women laugh a lot because in their past there were so many tears. Somehow the water washes away those painful memories.

Credit: Lynette Cedarquist

"This is the most awesome group of women I have been around, "said Jean Snow who battled lymphoma. "They are the reason I can say that cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me," said Jean.

Credit: Team Survivor Sea Dragons

On Sunday, May 21st, the Sea Dragons will do a Marathon paddle around Mission Bay; 26.2 miles in perfect unison. 

"They keep me active; they keep me motivated to continue what I do. They keep my spirit alive," said team coach Cheance Adair.  

They welcome new participants year-round but especially during the lovely summer months following the many Survivor Celebrations in June around San Diego.  

It is a great time to meet other new paddlers and learn together.  

Team Survivor San Diego is a non-profit organization. The Sea Dragon's Marathon paddle takes place at Mission Bay on Sunday, May 21st.  If you'd like to join the group or make a donation, click here.

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