Ellie's Story

Ellie's Story

The boat is my happy place.

Ellie found her breast cancer early, but after reconstructive surgery she was left with permanent pain. This was compounded upon by bouts of depression, which she has dealt with since her teens, as well as an unexpected heart attack. Getting involved in dragon boat paddling has helped with her recovery both socially and physically. By finding a group of people who’d been through similar circumstances and experiences, she’s not just found an activity she enjoys, but also an entire community of support.

When I first saw my oncologist after being diagnosed with breast cancer she said to me randomly, okay dragon boat racing, and I was just like what? We’ve been together now, for I think 14 years. He’s just amazing with being with me through everything and I think its safe to say he’s put up with an awful lot. He has a long list of things that I’ve had to learn to cope with and try and get my head around. As a result of the chemotherapy, I lost my fertility, so I’ve also had my ovaries removed. So I’ve been in menopause since I was 30. Whoever decides to give out health conditions needs to just go away from me because a couple of months ago I had a heart attack. It was just bad luck. It was a blood clot in one of my arteries. Since finding out that I can’t have kids, we decided to have just fur babies. Steve is our little baby, even though he is like nearly 7 now. He just loves you so much, unconditionally and that he’s cute and fluffy and cuddly is even better. You know having my heart attack was a complete surprise, and it meant being away from the boat for a couple of months, and all the time I just couldn’t wait to get back. I came down and got in the boat, and it was one of the best things I have ever done. Having something like, who love live, just a bunch of amazingly supportive women who have had breast cancer, who you can lean on and are there to help and just to make you smile and I think smiling is an important part of getting through. It’s just an amazing floating support group. Just that look you get from all the women. The boat is a happy place.

How Ellie Gets Moving

Ellie mostly keeps active through dragon boat paddling, whether she’s doing warm-ups with the team or paddling in the water. The group she paddles with is entirely made up of other people affected by breast cancer, which provides both friendships and support. She also occasionally attends Pilates classes in her local cancer support centre, though she’ll skip these if she isn’t feeling too great.

Since we last spoke to Ellie, she has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Ellie is learning to adapt her activities to suit multiple conditions she has started aqua aerobics and says that “jumping in the pool is one of [her] favourite things”. She has even made a new group of friends in the classes, who often meet for coffee and a chat.

Related Resources

Here are some resources related to Ellie’s story about moving more:

Breast Cancer Now - Information on exercise and breast cancer

Rethink Mental Illness - Mental Illness and Being Active

Mind - Physical activity and your mental health

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