4 Your Health

Breast Cancer survivors are paddling for wellness

CREATED Oct 3, 2011 - UPDATED: Oct 3, 2011

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RACINE - We're used to seeing the pink ribbon. Now, some local women are giving breast cancer a tougher new look. The women are strong on the water near the Racine Marina, but their real battles are on dry land. Debbie Wolf and Terri Smith are both breast cancer patients. They told us about the pain they've gone through.

Debbie explains, "In 2005 it went to the liver, I had chemo, and my liver taken out. In 2007 it went to the left lung, and part of the left lung was take out."

Terri's battle has also been extensive. She says, "I lost all my chest muscle, and part of my chest wall."

More than a dozen women--their bodies torn apart by breast cancer are coming together to show their will to survive. They are Wheaton Franciscan's Pink Paddling Power Dragon Boat Team--made up of breast cancer survivors.

Coach Bryan Siebenlist says he's inspired every day. "It's a support group, it's not your mother's support group, that's for sure,"

Debbie Wolf has overcome many battles in the last nine years, and she keeps fighting and paddling--with her teenage daughter always on her mind.

"I go everyday for her, and she's gonna graduate this year, and I'm gonna be there," she asserts.

Terri says her doctors have noticed a difference since she started paddling.

"I can go long distances, and I don't have the problems I had before, and I got my muscle back," Terri explains.

Those muscles are leading the team to the top in most races. They recently took gold at Nationals, and will travel to the World Championship next July.

"You definitely definitely have to want anything you do in life--whether it's surviving this terrible disease, or even any other athlete, you ask them what drives you to perform, and it is to get to that level," Siebenlist says.

Terri has high hopes for the future. "I hope to live! I want to stay competitive, and continue with the paddling, and just fighting--I refuse to give up!"

Pink Paddling Power is the only all breast cancer survivor team in Wisconsin right now. The team is always looking for new members.

For more information on the Pink Paddling Power team, click here.