Silver Linings Foundation Hosts Sports Medicine Physician in Kalispell for Special Presentation Ahead of the Montana Dragon Boat Festival
Thursday, September 6, 6:00 pm at Rebecca Farm
Click HERE for event info and tickets
For breast cancer survivors, there are good days and bad days. And for many women facing this battle, it’s a long hard road; one filled with treatments, doctor visits and struggles that sometimes make doing everyday things difficult. For many women facing cancer, they don’t have to do it alone. Meet the Silver Lining Foundation.
Founded in the spring of 2015, this group of women from Missoula, Montana, began meeting to support each other during and after breast cancer treatments. Today, the group has more than 120 members that includes women recently diagnosed with breast cancer to long-time survivors who meet monthly to help support each other through this phase of life.
One of its newest members, Shana Duffalo, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2017. Shortly after that, she joined the Silver Lining Foundation where she found a sisterhood of women brought together by their common experience with breast cancer.
“When you’re fighting cancer, you’re in a place where your life stops for a minute while the world moves on around you,” said Duffalo. “These women provide true inspiration and real relationships that are uplifting and energizing.”
While each woman has a different story, they have all walked the same path—a path that includes dragon boat racing as a form of camaraderie, sisterhood and source of physical activity recommended by one of the leading sports medicine physicians in the world, Dr. Donald McKenzie from the University of British Columbia. In 1996, Dr. McKenzie recruited, organized and trained the first breast cancer survivor dragon boat team to show that upper body exercise is helpful for people who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
As part of his research, Dr. McKenzie has seen evidence that exercise of the upper body—especially on patients with lymphedema (which is a swelling of lymph nodes)—has a positive impact on their physical and mental health, as well as providing direct benefits for women with breast cancer.
Today, there are more than 200 dragon boat teams around the world dedicated to breast cancer survivors, including the Silver Lining Group and Got Mamm?, a Flathead Valley team sponsored by the Save a Sister Initiative.
“This group of women from Silver Lining Foundation is more than just dragon boat racers,” said Duffalo. “They were all so welcoming and it was an amazing knowing that these ladies knew exactly what I was feeling and experiencing.”
In her journey with breast cancer, Duffalo credits her family and the friends she has made in the Silver Linings Group, as well as what it meant to her to compete in her first dragon boat race in Lethbridge.
“To be in that boat is amazing,” said Duffalo. “Racing a dragon boat allowed me to do something physical, even when it seemed like I should not have been able to. The spirit of the women surrounding me and the rest of our team gave me the strength I needed not only in that moment, but while I’m fighting cancer.”
Duffalo also had severe lymphedema on the side her surgery was on and commented on how paddling in Lethbridge helped her.
“My lymphedema actually got better when I was in Canada,” said Duffalo. “Paddling in that dragon boat worked my upper body and improved my lymphedema.”
Many women throughout the world have embraced the sport of dragon boating with teams from 26 different countries racing in the name of breast cancer and breast cancer survivors. And for many teams, they’ve found a spirit of strength. For Duffalo, that spirit and sisterhood continue to be a major support as she fights her battle with cancer.
But she also offers this advice: “Let yourself cry and let other people help you. Feel the emotion of what’s happening and just go with it.”
As part of their work, the Silver Lining Foundation are sponsoring the Silver Lining September Fling, with keynote speaker Dr. McKenzie. Held on September 6 (prior to the Montana Dragon Boat Festival), the event will take place at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana (located at 1010 W. Springcreek Road) from 6-9 p.m. More information, as well as tickets, can be found at www.SilverLiningSeptemberFling.EventBrite.com.
This year’s Montana Dragon Boat Festival is slated for September 8-9 at Volunteer Park in Lakeside. Spectators are welcome and the festival includes live music, craft beer and local food trucks, as well as the opportunity to cheer on teams from around North America, including three breast cancer survivor teams from Montana and California. Plus, entrance to the Montana Dragon Boat Festival is free.
Learn more at www.MontanaDragonBoat.com.