Every year in the Geneva area alone, over 2000 people hear those terrifying words, “You have cancer. An estimated 600 of them are a part of the international community who may feel more comfortable in English than in French. The English Speaking Cancer Association was started to respond to the specific needs of these patients and their loved ones. Our professionals and trained volunteers, many of whom are cancer survivors, come from all corners of the globe with one thing in common: our services are in English and we want to help.

We are the main organiser of the Paddle for Cancer dragonboat festival which involves the racing of dragonboats and amateur dragonboat paddling teams comprised of Corporate, Open and All Female teams.  The festival demonstrates the direct (and highly positive) link between breast cancer rehabilitation and paddling as well as the increasing move toward corporate social responsibility among enterprises and organisations.  Our biggest hope is that Paddle for Cancer becomes a part of the lifestyle in the Swiss Romande region and be seen as a positive means for:

  • Cancer survivors to better manage their post-treatment, improve their quality of life and increase their chances of survival
  • Corporations to team build
  • Families to bond
  • Communities to get involved in the movement to help cancer survivors and in the fight against cancer

Fundraising and proceeds from the festival are used to fund the expansion and elaboration of our services and our on-going projects:

  • Professional Counselling Services for cancer patients and their loved ones
  • Continued training and supervision for peer supporters and volunteers, many of whom are cancer survivors themselves
  • Coffee mornings, information evenings, structured support groups, gym, yoga and more
  • Drop-in Centre with comprehensive library of books, pamphlets, CDs and videos on cancer issues
  • Awareness and information events throughout the year

The English Speaking Cancer Association is a recognised non-profit association providing emotional support, practical help and information in English to cancer patients, their carers and loved ones.

The Cancer Link

In February 1996, Dr. Donald McKenzie organised a dragonboat team comprising breast cancer survivors. His aim was to prevent lymphedema (swelling of usually an arm or leg due to removal of or damage to lymph nodes during surgery).

Dr. McKenzie’s studies had shown that, contrary to popular misconception, exercise was beneficial and dragonboating in particular ideal for his breast cancer patients whose active treatment had ended.

  • Non-weight-bearing – there is lower risk of injury than weight-dependent activities such as running
  • Safe – with proper technique the paddler can recruit a reasonable amount of muscle mass and induce positive adaptations in the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems.
  • Suited to a wide variety of ages and athletic abilities – training intensity can be varied simply by pulling harder and still provide each paddler with a training effect.
  • Psychologically positive – a team sport that builds harmony and togetherness, dragonboating is an exhilarating experience that every paddler has enjoyed.

Read more about Abreast in a Boat

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