Borskanker-oorwinnaars word draakboot-kampioene
‘n Groep van 20 vroue – almal oorwinnaars van borskanker en bekend as die amaBele Belles – het onlangs in die Spanje goue medaljes gewen in ‘n internasionale draakbootresies.
Die amaBele Belles is die eerste draakboot-span in Afrika wat geheel en al uit kanker-oorlewendes bestaan. Die kaptein van die wenspan is Merlin Osborne.
Merlin Osborne vertel vir Martelize Brink by Oggend op RSG van die AmaBele Belle draakbootspan wat onlangs goue medaljes in Spanje verower het. Die span bestaan uit mense wat borskanker gehad het.
Die vroue het begin roei juis om een van die komplikasies van borskanker en -behandeling – ‘n moeilik beweegbare arm weens die verwydering van okselkliere wat aangetas en die moontlikheid van ‘n geswelde arm weens swakker limdreinering – teen te werk.
Klik hier om na ‘n mooi video hieronder van die span te kyk.
Merlin se verhaal
In 2007, Osborne found a lump in her underarm. Despite her family’s history with cancer, she waited more than a month to get it checked. When her fears were confirmed, Osborne spent four days in her room trying to figure out what to do. “The first thought that I had in mind was death,” she says. Then, Osborne realised that she was more than the diagnosis. “I decided cancer wasn’t going to define who I am,” she says. Osborne started chemotherapy to shrink the lump, and later had a mastectomy to remove the affected breast. For five years, she was on medication that caused depression. Throughout the ordeal, Osborne approached her illness with positivity – joking about her lopsidedness and showing people her scar. “I wasn’t going to allow it to steal my joy,” she says. Even then, there were times when she needed others to keep her going. “I really felt lonely,” Osborne says. “No one could ever prepare one for the journey of breast cancer.” In search of support and a healthy distraction, Osborne joined dragon boating.
Formed in 2006, the amaBele Belles are the first dragon boat racing team in Africa to be powered by cancer survivors. The sport has a direct impact on recovery, as the paddling required reduces swelling in the arms that certain cancer treatments can cause. But being a dragon boater has benefitted Osborne beyond the physical results. Her team acts as a support group, providing guidance and comfort. “I’ve never been showered with so much love,” Osborne says. “People understood what I had gone through.” She’s continuing the process of healing, and is sharing her story to motivate others. Through dragon boating, Osborne wants to show that a cancer diagnosis is not the end. For her, it was the beginning of a journey filled with purpose and hope. “Even though the cancer is gone, the friendships I have made will never die,” Osborne says.